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i^^Uf^Xfu^ /a*U«*-iA. ^^y^'-vU^ »^ 

^.a. >U>*!'-^ 





CQe Henr; WLantn Corte; ^nt 

Harvard Historical Studies. 

Published under the Direction of the Department of History and 
Government from the Income of the Henry Warren Torrey 

THIS SERIES will comprise works of original research 
selected from the recent writings of teachers and 
graduate students in the Department of History and Gov- 
ernment in Harvard University. The series will also include 
collections of documents, bibliographies, reprints of rare 
tracts, etc. The monographs will appear at irregular inter- 
vals; but it is hoped that at least three volumes will be 
published annually. 

The volumes of the series published in l8gi6 are: 

1 638-1 8 70. By W. E. B. Du Bob, Ph.D., Professor in 
Wilberforce University. 

MASSACHUSETTS. By S. B. Harding, A.M., Assistant 
Professor of History in Indiana University. 

CAROLINA. By D. F. Houston, A.M., Adjunct Pro- 
fessor of Political Science in the University of Texas. 

The following volumes will be published in l8gy : 

By Charles Gross, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History in 
Harvard University. 

NORTHWEST. By Theodore C. Smith, Ph.D. 

UNITED STATES. By Frederick W. Dalunger, A.M. 

LONGMANS, GREEN, & CO., Publishers, 



Contest over the Ratification 


jTetetal CotwJtttutuin 











Copyright, 1896, 
By thb President and Fellows of Harvard College. 

UNiTSRsmr Press: 
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A. 


This paper is the result, in the main, of work done in 
connection with the Seminary of American History and 
Institutions of Harvard University during the academic 
years 1893-94 and 1894-95. Much of what value it 
may possess is due to the kind assistance and guidance 
of the directors of the seminary. For the opinions ex- 
pressed herein, however, and for such errors of fact as 
may have crept into it, the author alone is responsible. 

The work was undertaken largely from a belief that 
only through a more thorough study than had hitherto 
been made of the internal political history of the States, 
in the period during and immediately following the Revo- 
lution, could a right understanding be obtained of the 
subsequent party struggles in national politics by which 
the interpretation of the Constitution was fixed and 
the scope and general policy of the new government 
were determined. So far, the author has been able to 
deal extensively with but two of the thirteen States, 
namely, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Some of the 
results arrived at with reference to the former State have 
been set forth in the Papers of the American Historical 
Association for 1894; those relating to the latter State 
are here presented. It is only necessary to add that, as 
the work has progressed, the conviction with which it 
was begun has steadily grown stronger. 

Bloomington, Indiana, 
May^ 1896. 


Chapter Page 

I. Introductory i 

II. Arguments against the Constitution . . . • 15 

III. Calling the Convention 45 

IV. Opposition in the Convention 59 

V. Ratification 82 

VI. Reception of the Ratification: its Influence 105 


A. Letter of "Cornelius" 117 

B. Letters of "A Republican Federalist" ... 129 

C. Bibliographical Note 173 

D. List of Authorities Cited 180 

Index 185 






It may, perhaps, be taken as an axiom of politics that Factors in 
under a popular form of government a decision is never §^^^^ 
reached solely upon the merits of the question. No 
matter how momentous the issue, no matter how intense 
the desire to decide aright, extraneous influences will 
inevitably affect the result. Prejudice will usually 
prove a more potent factor than reason, and the course 
of the individual or the community will be determined 
chiefly by its existing habits of political thought and 

In endeavoring, therefore, to arrive at an understand- Antecedent 
ing of the causes that in Massachusetts led so many ^'*^^^"*- 
persons to oppose the ratification of the Federal Consti- 
tution, it will be necessary to start with the antecedent 
conditions. Now, it may safely be asserted that two of 
the chief characteristics of the political life in that State 
in 1787, and the two which most directly fostered the 
development of the opposition to the newly proposed 
Federal system, were (i) the inordinate self-confidence ^ 
of the mass of the people as to their ability to pass upon 
the most abstruse questions of government, and (2) a 


dence of the 


as shown by 
the Ashfield 
Resolves ; 

pronounced antagonism in political matters between the 
upper and the lower classes. A few words as to each 
of these features will make clear what is meant. 

Even before the Revolution, keenness of the po- 
litical sense was a marked characteristic of the Massa- 
chusetts man, its development being in large part due 
to the fostering influence of frequent participation in the 
business of the town-meeting. There he became familiar 
with the routine administration of aflairs, was imbued 
with the healthy spirit of liberty which underlay New 
England institutions, and was familiarized with the stock 
precedents of government which constituted the common 
heritage of the English race. It was with the art of 
politics, however, rather than with its philosophy that 
he was concerned : his knowledge was one of particular 
instances rather than of general theories. With the 
latter he was first familiarized in the political agitations 
that preceded and accompanied the break with the 
mother country. Then for the first time he was made 
acquainted with the political philosophy founded on the 
theory of the social compact and the doctrine of the 
rights of man. The appeal to this philosophy, moreover, 
was accompanied by a flattery of the masses on the part 
of the Revolutionary agitators, which, together with the 
easy simplicity of the doctrines presented, led perhaps 
inevitably to the exaggerated sense of political capacity 
which has been named as one of the most marked char- 
acteristics of the men of this period. 

This temper came to light as soon as the attempt 
was made to build up some sort of settled govern- 
ment to replace the repudiated royal administration. 
Owing to the absence of most of the men of learn- 
ing and political experience, either in the army or as 
refugee loyalists, men of lesser calibre usually took the 
lead. In the Ashfield (Hampshire) Resolves of October 
4, 1776, we have a curious instance of the result. In 


these it is recited that " for as the Old Laws that we 
have Ben Ruled by under the British Constitution have 
Proved Inefectual to Secuer us from the more then 
Savige Crualty of tiranical Opressars and Sense the God 
of Nature hath Enabeled us to Brake that yoke of Bond- 
age we think our Selves Bound in Duty to God and our 
Country to Opose the Least Apearanc of them Old 
Tiranical Laws taking Place again; " therefore it is voted 
" that we will take the Law of God for the foundation of 
the forme of our Goverment . . . that it is our opin- 
nion that we Do not want any Goviner but the Goviner 
of the univarse, and under him a States Ginaral to Con- 
sult with the wrest of the united States for the Good of 
the whole . . . ; that the Asembelly of this Stat Con- 
sist of one Colecttive body the Members of which body 
Shall Anually be Alected . . . that all acts Pased by the 
Ginaral Cort of this State Respecting the Seviral Towns 
Be Sent to the Sevaral Towns for thair acceptants Be- 
fore they Shall be in force," etc.^ At Pittsfield (Berk- 
shire) wiser heads were in control, and an abler pen — 
that of Rev. Thomas Allen — wrote the resolves; but 
the self-confident temper was the same. In that county, 
from 1775 to 1780 every attempt at the exercise of au- 
thority based on the provincial charter was resisted by 
the so-called " Constitutionalists ; " and in justification and by the 
of their conduct they wrote to the General Court, May 29, con^tituUon- 
1776: " Knowing the strong bias of human nature to alists. 
tyranny and despotism, we have nothing else in view 
but to provide for posterity against the wanton exercise 

1 Massachusetts Archives (State House), CLVI. 131. At the 
opposite pole to the inhabitants of Ashfield, so far as relates to the 
government which they desired for the country as a whole, stood 
the men of Boothbay. These, in 1778, expressed the wish that 
after the war " all distinction of Separate States " should be abol- 
ished, and the union of America be secured " by reducing the whole 
into one great Republick." /^V/., p. 368. 


of power, which cannot otherwise be done than by the 
formation of a fundamental constitution. . . . We have 
heard much of government being founded in compact : 
what compact has been formed as the foundation of 
government in this Province ? " ^ 
Other Nor are these instances unique : throughout the State 

examples. there was manifest the same spirit of political unrest and 

of confidence in the ability of the average man to con- 
struct anew, and with advantage, the whole machinery 
of government To quote from a letter from John Win- 
throp to John Adams, under date of June i, 1776: 
" There is such a spirit of innovation gone forth as I 
am afraid will throw us into confusion. It seems as if 
everything was to be altered. Scarce a newspaper but 
teems with new projects. This week produced three : 
First, For county assemblies ; Second, for a registry of 
deeds in each town; Third, for the probate of wills, 
etc., to be made in each town by a committee, to 
be annually chosen for that purpose at the meet- 
ing ; " * projects which, his correspondent replied, were 
** founded in narrow notions, sordid stinginess, and pro- 
found ignorance," and which tended " directly to 
barbarism." * 

It was natural that this spirit should be most con- 
spicuously manifested at the beginning of the Revo- 
lution, when all constitutional relations were disor- 
ganized ; but the point to be noted is that something 
Persistence of of the same temper persisted for a number of years, 
seif^^nfident ^^^ pj^^^^ ^ considerable part in determining the atti- 
tude of the people when the Federal Constitution was 
submitted to them. 

With the people of Massachusetts such a question 

1 Smith, History ofPitisfield, I. 351-4. 

* Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections^ Fifth Series, 
IV. 308. 

• Ibid,<i p. 310. 


was by no means merely formal. In matters even so as seen in the 
weighty as the framing of a Constitution they did not l^e^^s 
hesitate to form decided and independent judgments. o/Confedera- 
The history of the ratification of the Articles of Con- 
federation illustrates this. In 1777 that instrument was 
submitted by the General Court to the towns, that 
they might instruct their representatives in the matter. 
Thereupon the town of Palmer reported that they ap- 
proved all except the section " which Delegates a power 
In Congress to have the Sole & Inclusive Rite of De- 
termining on peace and war, which Reather at present 
appears to us ought to be more perticularly Vested in 
the people." ^ Amesbury wished to amend the Articles, 
not only as to the determining of peace and war, but 
also so that the charges of government should be ap- 
portioned among the States " according to the Value and 
income of Personal as well as Real Estate."^ Bridge- 
water wished no question to be determined by less than 
eleven States.^ The town of Westborough reported 
that they "are of Opinion that the Protestant Reli- 
gion, is not duly Guarded in Said Confederation; also 
we think it might be well to Acknowledge, the Su- 
perintendency of Heaven, in the Style ; " * while Lex- 
ington wished as a " further Barrier to the Freedom 
and Independence of This^ and the other States^** and 
a " standing Check upon the Arts and Schemes of 
crafty y designing and ambitions Men " that the right be 
reserved to the States of suggesting amendments to 

Still more clearly is the same temper shown in the 
formation of the State Constitution. In this the part 

1 Massachusetts Archives, CLVI. 294. My attention was first 
called to these votes by Mr. C. A. Duniway, at that time a fellow- 
student in the Harvard Graduate School. 

* Ibid.^ p. 300. * Ibid,y p. 299. 

• Ibid,^ p. 302. • Ibid,^ p. 295. 


and in the 
of a State 

of 1778 

of 1780 

played by the towns was even more pronounced than 
in the ratification of the Articles of Confederation. In 

1776 the House of Representatives, acting under the 
Provincial Charter, called upon the towns to decide 
whether the existing General Court should be em- 
powered to enact a Constitution; but because of the 
non-concurrence of the Council, or for some other 
reason, only a minority of the towns responded. In 

1777 the attempt was again made, and the towns were 
advised to select their representatives for the ensuing 
year with care, and to instruct them with regard to 
drafting a Constitution for the State. When these 
representatives met, they with the Council resolved 
themselves into a Constitutional Convention, and drafted 
a Constitution, which in 1778 was submitted to the 
people. By a vote of more than two to one this was 
rejected, Boston leading the opposition.^ The next 
year the towns were asked, (i) whether they wanted a 
Constitution or not, and (2) whether they would em- 
power the next General Court to call a Convention 
expressly to frame such an instrument. Both propo- 
sitions were accepted by overwhelming votes ; and by 
a Convention called under this authorization the admi- 
rable Constitution of 1780 was framed. Accompanied 
by an address so conciliatory as to be almost ludicrous, 
this Constitution was then submitted to the people of the 
towns for ratification, and having secured the approval 
of the required two-thirds of the freemen of the State, 

J Smith {History of Pittsfield, I. 357) asserts that it was the 
aristocratic element which defeated the Constitution of 1 778. This 
clement, he says, had dictated the government of the interregnum, 
and wished its continuance for selfish reasons. The real reason for 
the opposition, however, seems to have been the loose nature and 
generally unsatisfactory character of the Constitution proposed. 
The Constitution of 1778 may be found iu the Journal of the 
Convention of 1779-^, Appendix V. 


it was finally proclaimed by the Convention at a second 

Thus, the people of Massachusetts were called upon Frequent par- 
six times in less than as many years to pass upon the the'peopiein 
most fundamental questions that could be submitted to constitution- 
their suffrages. In their dealings with neither the Arti- * 

cles of Confederation nor the State Constitution were 
they restricted in the exercise of their right to a mere 
acceptance or rejection in its entirety of the instrument 
proposed to them : in connection with both of these, the 
right to reject specific sections and to propose amend- 
ments was expressly recognized and was freely exercised. 
Every citizen of the State was thus admitted to an active 
participation in the constitution-making, as well as in 
the administration of government, of this epoch. Un- 
doubtedly, one result of this was that the men of Massa- 
chusetts were thereby better prepared to act intelligently 
upon the Federal Constitution of 1787, when it was sub- and its results, 
mitted to them. It was this preliminary training in 
the processes of constitution-making, together with the 
generally better developed political sense of the New 
Englander, which prevented the discussion in the ratify- 
ing Convention of that State from being confined entirely 
to a very few leaders on each side, as was the case, for 
example, in Pennsylvania. Nothing is truer, however, 
than that *' a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." A 
more pernicious result of this frequent submission of 
fundamental questions to popular suffrage was the de- / 
velopment and confirmation of the belief, among the / 
masses, that in the framing of a constitution no higher 
» order of intellect is necessary than in the laying out 
of a county road, or in the formulation of rules for the 

^ In this account of the steps leading to the adoption of the 
Constitution of 1780, I have followed in the main a MS. thesis in 
Harvard College Library on The Struggle for the Constitution in 
Massachusetts^ by Dr. F. E. Haynes (1891). 






Its causes. 

pasturing of swine on the town common.^ Hence, in the 
proceedings relating to the Federal Constitution, we find 
that not only is the idea widely prevalent among the 
citizens of the State, both in and out of the ratifying 
Convention, that they could themselves have framed a 
better, or at least a safer. Constitution than the one sub- 
mitted to them; but also the demand is advanced 
that the Constitution be submitted to the individual 
towns for their ratification, — a course of procedure 
which would have rendered the cause of ratification 

By the antagonism between the upper and the lower 
classes, which has been named as the second great char- 
acteristic of this period, is meant something more than the 
latent hostility, born of envy, which always exists on the 
part of those who have not toward those who have. This 
certainly was an element in its composition, but not the 
sole or the most important one. Economic and politi- 
cal influences of far greater weight entered into it ; and 
it was chiefly owing to these that by the year 1787 the 
antagonism of classes had developed into an earnest, if 
not a bitter, contest between the forces of aristocracy and 
democracy for the control of the State government. 

In the development of this contest, it was the democ- 
racy that had taken the initiative. The distrust of the 
upper classes, to which this was due, was partly a natural 
consequence of the growth of the democratic spirit 
which accompanied the Revolution ; partly, too, it was 

^ In refreshing contrast to the action of many of the towns, is 
the return made from the town of Bluehill Bay upon the Constitu- 
tion of 1778. " Sur and If there is Aney thing that we have Om- 
metted in the Return," write the twenty-six inhabitants of the town 
by their chairman, after signifying their assent to the measure, " I 
Would have you Let us know by Capt. Haskell for we Are so as it 
Ware Out of the Wourld that We Dont hardley know Wether we 
Do Rite or Rong But we Mean to Do as Well as We Can." 
Massachusetts Archives, CLVI. 418. 


the result of special causes. • One of these causes lay in 
the fact that so many of the professional men, and men 
of property and education, either remained loyalists or 
gave but a lukewarm support to the measures of the 
patriot party ;( another cause was the natural antagonism 
of interest between town and country, between agricul- 
tural and commercial sections ;> and still a third is to be 
found in the economic and legal conditions of the time, 
which after the conclusion of peace speedily brought into 
wide disrepute one of the most conspicuous elements of 
the aristocracy, namely, the legal class. It was the 
antagonism between town and country, accentuated Antagonism 
after the war by the contrast between the poverty of ^Jwunt^ 
the farming regions and the comparative luxury of the 
maritime towns, that established the removal of the 
capital from Boston as an article of the Shaysite plat- 
form;^ and that helped to break down the popular 
prejudice against impost and excise taxes, this in turn 
leading to the attempt to throw the burden of taxation on 
commerce.* Opposition to the " overbearing power of Opposition 
oppressive lawyers " * was even more widespread in 1786- ^^ lawyers. 
1 787 than the desire for the removal of the capital. '* Per- 

^ In the instructions voted by the town of Braintree to its 
representatives in 1778, for example, the first is "to remove the 
Court [legislature] from Boston." (Adams, History of Quincy^ 
p. 264.) Many such instructions may be found in this period. See 
Benedict and Tracy, History of Sutton^ p. 125, for like instructions 
voted by that town in 1786; and Jameson, Records of Amherst^ 
p. 97, for like action by Amherst in 1787. By the latter town the 
reasons for desiring the removal are stated to be : (i) the undue 
influence which the presence of the capitol in Boston gives to 
merchants and others of its inhabitants ; (2) the noise and other 
influences that tend to divert the attention of representatives; 
(3) the fact that "eatables are much Dearer " at second and third 

^ Minot, History of the Insurrections in Massachusetts^ pp. 9-13. 
• " Perseverance," in Massachusetts Centinely June 17, 1786. 



Inferior men 


haps Since the settlement of this country, independence 
not excepted^* says one newspaper statesman, speaking 
of the articles in which the matter was first broached, 
**^here never was a more popular question agitated than 
this by HonestusT ^ Undoubtedly, there was much legiti- 
mate ground for dissatisfaction with the administration 
of the law as it was conducted at this time. Fees of all 
sorts were high, and imprisonment for debt was not 
only allowed, but was of frequent occurrence. The form 
which the movement took was twofold: (i) to abolish 
"yT pernicipus practice of y^.Law/' allowing each citi- 
zen to " support and defend his cause before any Court 
of la>y with y*.same freedom . . . as . . . before Arbi- 
trators ; " ^ and (2) to exclude lawyers from all offices 
within the gift of the people. 

The result of the growing distrust of the upper 
classes was to be seen in the change in the character 
of the men who after the Revolution were intrusted 
with office. This was remarked by John Adams upon 
his return, in 1788, from his nine-year residence abroad. 
"The constancy of th^ people in a course of annual 
elections," he writes, " has discarded from their confi- 
dence almost all the old, stanch, firm patriots, who 
conducted the revolution in all the civil departments, 
and has called to the helm pilots much more selfish 
and much less skilful." * 

The revolt which btoke out in the western counties 
in 1786-1787 under Daniel Shays,* and which was 

1 " Jus," in Massachusetts Centinel^ April 22, 1786. 

^ Dedham instructions to representative, May 17, 1786, in 
Huntoon, History of Canton^ p. 428. 

• John Adams, Works^ IX. 557. 

^ What seems to be a fair account of the classes of persons 
entering into the uprising is given by Barnabas Bidwell, a young 
Yale graduate, whose home was in Berkshire County, Massa- 
chusetts, and who visited the counties concerned soon after the 


designed to coerce the government into granting the 
demands of the popular leaders, seems to have been 
the last straw with the aristocracy. It was this which 
crystallized the existing class hostility into definite 
political opposition. A writer signing himself "Atti- "Atticus" 
cus," in the Independent Chronicle of Boston for p^*<Svi2li 
October i8, 1787, undertakes to assign the very 
moment at which this change took place. From the 
countermanding of the order for the troops to go to 
Concord to support the Court of Common Pleas, in 
September, 1787, two parties, he says, had resulted in 
the State : first, "that of the populace," which tended to 
" general levelism, and democratic turbulence ; " second, 
that of the rich, of men of " austere political principles," 
which tended to " an alteration of the Constitution of 
our State, and the subjection of the people to a rigid 
aristocracy." The reason why these parties arose just at 
that time, according to this writer, was that the populace 
thought that the moment had come when they could 
shake off their obligations to the rich without punish- 

subsidence of the troubles. After mentioning the fact that " the 
Gentlemen of learning and the liberal professions . . . are uni- 
versally for Government," he goes on to say: ** Debtors are 
generally on the other side ; and this class comprehends more 
than half of the people. Persons guilty of crimes, or who wish to 
commit crimes ; Rhode Island Emigrants and almost all of the 
denomination of Baptists ; men of warm passions and but little 
reason ; men of fickle minds, fond of every new scheme and proud 
of an enterprising spirit, — such have pretty generally engaged in 
the Insurrection. They have been joined by many, who have no 
attachment to any establishment, but were glad of the commotion, 
as it gave them something to do. They have also drawn in a large 
number of boys ; and also of the ignorant, uninformed, but well- 
meaning common people, who hearing such a dreadful outcry 
against Government, believed there were some intolerable griev- 
ances, although they knew not what*' To David Dagget, June 
16, 1787: American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings^ April, 1887, 
New Series, IV. 368. 




Views of 



of State gov- 

ment, while the rich judged from the countermanding 
of the order to the troops that the existing laws were 
no longer sufficient for the protection of their interests. 

The attitude which seems to have been taken gener- 
ally by men of education and property at this time, 
is indicated by a letter from Theodore Sedgwick to 
Rufus King. " Every man of observation," he writes, 
"is convinced that the end of government security 
cannot be attained by the exercise of principles founded 
on democratic equality. A war is now actually levied 
on the virtue, property and distinctions in the com- 
munity, and however there may be an appearance of a 
temporary cessation of hostilities, yet the flame will 
again and again break out." ^ Henry Knox took even 
a more downright view of the matter. " The democracy 
might be managed, nay, it would remedy itself after 
being sufficiently fermented," he wrote to King, who 
was then attending the Federal Convention at Philadel- 
phia; "but the vile State governments are sources of 
pollution, which will contaminate the American name 
perhaps for ages. Machines that must produce ill, but 
cannot produce good, smite them in the name of God 
and the people."* 

* Ufe and Correspondence of Rufus King, I. 224. 

^ Drake, Life of Knox, p. 96. For further illustration of 
the views of the aristocratic faction, see the pamphlet entitled 
Thoughts upon the Political Situation of the United States of 
America^ in which that of Massachusetts is more particularly 
considered. . . . By a native of Boston [Jonathan Jackson], 
Worcester, 1788. In this the author, after commenting on the 
fact that " much has been lately said of aristocratical men and 
principles,*' and that great alarms have been founded thereon, 
asserts that the greatest risk to the people is " their proneness to a 
highly democratical government; a government in which they would 
be directed by no rule but their own will and caprice, or the inter- 
ested wishes of a very few persons, who ajfect to speak the 
sentiments of the people " (p. 55). '* The people in any numbers,** 


Undoubtedly, such ultra-aristocratic views as those of Democratic 
Knox reacted to strengthen democratic tendencies in s^cngthened. 
many who did not sympathize with the schemes for 
debt-repudiation which were championed by the popu- 
lar party. For example, Mrs. Mercy Warren, whose 
affiliations through her husband and his friends were 
with the democratic faction, saw in Shays's revolt only 
" discontents artificially wrought up, by men who wished 
for a more strong and splendid government." ^ To the 
same effect is a communication in one of the papers of 
the day. " A number of men, who have pretended to 
be disgusted at the late unhappy commptions," asserts 
the writer, with what seems to have been more than a 
grain of truth, " secretly rejoice at the opportunity of 
establishing^ under pretence of necessity^ a tyrannical 
rule ; in the room of our free^ and happy Constitution. / 
A certain mark by which these are distinguished^ is >/ 
their repeated declarations, that the people have not 
virtue enough to bear a free government, when in fact 
nothing has taken place here, but what has happened 
in every form of government yet established in the 
world." 2 

Thus, by the close of 1787 we have in Massachusetts Political 
a democracy, incensed at what it considers the oppres- Smf^^yS 
sions, actual and prospective, of the aristocracy, fairly 
united in its plans of political action, and abundantly 

he says in another place, '* cannot even be trusted to appoint those 
who shall manage for them, they are so liable when together in 
large numbers, to be acted upon and cajoled by those, who in 
every community are upon the watch to deceive, and active to gain 
authority to themselves for sinister views." Hence he proposes a 
novel scheme for action through a complicated system of inter- 
mediate electors, the lowest units to be circles composed of ten 
voters each (p. 168). 

* Mrs. Warren, History of the American Revolution, III. 346. 

* Independent Chronicle, Oct 4, 1787. This was probably writ- 
ten before the appearance of the Constitution in Massachusetts. 


confident of its power to decide all political matters 
whatsoever, unaided by the counsel or advice of the 
upper classes. The aristocratic element in the State 
had looked to the Convention at Philadelphia for such 
a Federal Constitution as would enable it to maintain 
that ascendency in matters of government which had of 
old been the lot of men of wealth and education, but 
which of late had been seriously threatened by the 
encroachments of the jealous democracy. Though it 
did not get all that was desired at the hands of the 
Convention, the aristocracy found the new Constitution 
in the main acceptable. But just in proportion as it 
and their was welcomed by the upper classes, it promised to 
th^teof pj^ove unacceptable to the populace. Under the in- 
thc Federal fluence of the existing antagonism of social elements, 
that which met with the favor of the aristocracy came 
shortly to be regarded with suspicion by the democ- 
racy ; and, in the contest which ensued for ratification, 
the dread of irretrievably fastening upon themselves in 
some way the power of the aristocracy unquestionably 
formed the chief factor in determining the greater por- 
tion of the inhabitants of the State, especially those 
of the rural districts, in a fixed opposition to the adop- 
tion of the new system. 



The Constitution was received at Boston late in the Publication 
evening of September 25, 1787,^ and was published stitudon?"^ 
the next day in an " extra " of the Massachusetts Cen- 
tinel. On the 27th it appeared in the Independent 
Chronicle; on the 28th, in the Massachusetts Gazette; 
on the 30th, in the American Herald. The Salem 
Mercury gave it to its readers on October 2, the 
Hampshire Gazette on the 3rd. Within ten days 
from its reception at Boston it had appeared in all 
the papers of the State. Various pamphlet editions 
also were soon offered for sale. A little later the 
General Court ordered an edition to be printed con- 
taining the Constitution, the accompanying letter from 
Washington as president of the Convention, and the 
resolution of Congress transmitting it to the States; 
three copies of the pamphlet were to be sent to the Copies sent to 
selectmen of each town and district in the Common- *^® towns, 
wealth.* Thus, in the course of a few weeks the new 
plan was made accessible to all the reading citizens 

^ See Massachusetts Centinel^ date cited ; also Sullivan to 
King, Sept. 25, 1787, in Amory, Life of Sullivan^ I. 220. 

* See Resolves of October 25, calling State Convention, Docu- 
mentary History of the Constitution of the United States, 1 1, 
p. 91 ; also Debates of the Convention of 1788, p. 23. The refer- 
ences to the Debates are to the edition issued by the State in 1856, 
which contains much illustrative matter not found in the other 


with which it 
was awaited. 

Its feivorable 

of the State, and speedily became the chief subject 
of discussion both in public and in private. 

In Pennsylvania and New York, before the measures 
proposed by the Convention had been divulged, the 
foundation for opposition had been laid by persons 
selfishly interested in the maintenance of the existing 
status. In Massachusetts there appears to have been 
nothing of this kind. The result of the Convention 
was there awaited with great eagerness and expecta- 
tion, not only in the maritime section of the State, 
whose interests were more immediately concerned, but 
in the interior as well. Even in those regions where 
the revolt had occurred but a few months before, "all 
classes," we are told, seemed to "await with the great- 
est impatience the event of the federal Convention, 
looking up to it as to the fountain from which those 
streams of political felicity are to flow, the which shall 
make them happy." ^ When it finally appeared, the 
first impression was generally favorable. Knox, an 
ardent advocate of a strong national aristocracy, wrote, 
October 3 : " The people of Boston are in raptures with 
it as it is, but would have liked it still better had it been 
higher-toned." 2 On the 7th Christopher Gore re- 
ported to King : " The federal plan is well esteemed, 
and as far as can be deduced from present appearances, 
the adoption will be easy."* Even James Sullivan, 
at the same time that he gave utterance to serious 
doubts as to the provisions concerning the judiciary 
power, wrote: "I . . . cannot express the heartfelt 
satisfaction I have from it. ... I flatter myself it 
will meet with no opposition in this State. " * 

1 Independent Chronicle, Oct. 4, 1787 ; on authority of a "gen- 
tleman from Great Barrington." 

* Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution^ IV. 178. 
» Life of King, I. 261. 

* Ibid,^ p. 259. The date here attached to this letter (September 


Part of the apparent preponderance of sentiment in Adyocates 
favor of the Constitution was doubtless due to the fact Jhan^ppo^^ 
that the advocates of the plan came forward at first nents; 
more readily than its opponents.^ It was not long, 
however, before such extravagant expectations as those 
entertained by Sullivan were removed. The intem- 
perate conduct of the friends of the Constitution in 
Pennsylvania speedily aroused the suspicion of many 
that all was not right* The discovery that the una- 
nimity in the Convention was one of States and not of 
individuals, and the perusal of the published letters 
of the dissenting members, confirmed this suspicion. 
Finally, the Antifederalist pamphlets and newspaper butanopposi- 
articles of "The Federal Farmer," "Cincinnatus," ^<>» <i«^^<>P»- 
"Brutus," "Centinel," and others of that stamp fanned 
this suspicion into flaming opposition, which thence- 
forth needed no foreign aid to keep it alive.® 

23) is clearly wrong ; eight days at least were then necessary to 
transmit intelligence from Philadelphia to Boston. This would 
make the date about September 25, which is the date attached to 
this letter in Amory, Life of Sullivan^ I. 220. 

^ See Madison to Randolph, Oct. 7, 1787, Madison Papers^ 
II. 647. 

* This was the case, among others, with Thomas B. Wait, pub- 
lisher of the Falmouth GasetUy Maine. See his letter to Thatcher, 
Jan. 8, 1788, in "Selections from the Papers of Hon. George 
Thatcher," in the Historical Magazine of November and Decem- 
ber, 1869. Hereafter these selections will be referred to as Thatcher 

« The first series of Richard Henry Lee's Letters of the Federal 
Farmer was put on sale in Boston early in January by the Ameri- 
can Herald (see advertisement in issues of Dec. 31, 1787, and 
Jan. 7, 1788). There is also ground for believing that they were 
circulated in western Massachusetts by the New York Committee 
of Federal Republicans, of which George Clinton, John Lamb, and 
Charles Tillinghast were the leading spirits, at the same time that 
they were circulated by them in New York, Connecticut, Pennsyl- 
vania, and elsewhere. Lee was in frequent correspondence with 



Part played In the contest which ensued, Elbridge Gerry, al- 

by Gerry. though he had been one of the dissentients in the 

Convention, seems in the main to have kept in the 
background; but owing to his participation in that 
body, his published objections to the Constitution 
carried with them considerable weight. These, there- 
fore, though not the first in order of publication, may 
well be the first to occupy our attention. In his letter 

Samuel Adams, detailing to the latter his objections as early as 
October 5. The letters signed " Cincinnatus," which were exten- 
sively copied in Massachusetts from a New York paper, were also 
ascribed to Lee. Many of the letters of "Brutus," supposed to 
have been written by Thomas Treadwell, of Suffolk County, New 
York, were reprinted in Massachusetts. The letters of *' Centinel '* 
(Samuel Bryan, of Pennsylvania) were systematically reprinted only 
by the American Herald; the Address and Reasons for Dissent of 
the Pennsylvania Minority was put on sale by the same paper 
about the time when the Massachusetts Convention met. Most of 
the letters of *' Philadelphiensis '' also were republished by the 
Herald, and occasionally one of the series may be found else- 
where. George Mason's letter giving his reasons for dissent was 
widely published in Massachusetts, but generally with the para- 
graph relating to Eastern control of commerce omitted. Randolph's 
letter was published by several papers; but the letters of Yates 
and Lansing of New York, and Luther Martin of Maryland, were 
given only in the American Herald. These were the principal 
Antifederalist writings from without the State which were circulated 
in Massachusetts. 

It is rather curious to note that the letters of '* Publius," which, 
when collected, formed the Federalist, were systematically repub- 
lished in Massachusetts only by the American Herald^ the most 
ardent of the papers opposed to the Constitution. 

In Massachusetts, as in Pennsylvania, there was a good deal 
of complaint from the printers that newspapers from beyond the 
Hudson no longer reached them ; but no attempt was there made 
to fix the blame on the Federalists (see, e.g.^ Massachusetts Cen- 
tinel, Feb. 16, 1788). Newspapers not then being admitted to 
the mail-bags, they were carried only through the courtesy of post- 
riders ; and a change in postal regulations at this time seems to 
have been the cause of their less certain transmission. 


of October i8 to the Massachusetts General Court, — a His letter to 
letter which, by the way, he is said to have composed court?"*^'^*^ 
at J^w York in concert with Richard Henry Lee, the 
arch-enemy of the proposed system,^ and which the 
advocates of the Constitution admit did considerable 
harm to their cause,* — he gives the principal reasons 
for bis dissent. These were, that in the Constitution 
as submitted (i) there was no adequate provision for a Reasons for 
representation of the people, and no security for the '**®^****"'- 
right of election ; (2) that some of the powers of the 
legislature were ambiguous and others indefinite and 
dangerous; (3) that the executive was blended with 
and would have an undue influence over the legisla- 
ture; (4) that the judicial department would be oppres- 
sive; (5) that treaties of the highest importance might 
be made by^ the President, with the advice of two- 
thirds of a quorum of the Sejiate; and (6) that the sys- 
tem was without the security of a Bill of Rights.' 
These objections, with explanations and augmenta- 
tions, were printed, after the termination of the 
contest in Massachusetts, in a very readable little 
pamphlet entitled Observations on the new Constitution^ 
and on the Federal and State Conventions^ by a Colum- 
bian Patriot^ which was extensively circulated in New 
York State.* 

1 Bancroft, History of the Constitution, II. 230 ; Worcester 
Magaziney IV. 158. 

* Gore to King, Dec. 30, 1787, Life of King, I. 267. 

■ The letter was published in the Massachusetts Centinel of 
Nov. 3, 1787. It is most conveniently found in Austin, Life of 
Gerry, II. 42-3. 

* Ford, Pamphlets on the Constitution, p. 407. The cjiief 
objections alleged in this pamphlet, in addition to the foregoing, 
are the departure from annual elections, the omission of a pro- 
vision for rotation in office, the monopoly of all sources of revenue 
by Congress, the length of term for senators, the election of the 
President by •* an aristocratic junto " (as the electoral colleges are 


The attack The first publication against the Constitution in 

begiiwf"^^** Massachusetts, so far as has been ascertained, was 
" in the Massachusetts Gazette of October 9. In that 
issue the editor gave a list of objections to the Con- 
stitution, which he said had been "handed" to him 
" by a correspondent." The system proposed, said this 
writer, needed careful revision and correction, before 
it would be perfect or be likely to contribute to the 
happiness of any State. y^-tThe representation was too 
small, while the term was too long, a. The authority 
of the Federal government would extend not only to 
foreign commerce, but to the internal economy of the 
States as well. ^These would be deprived of the right to 
levy imposts and excises, and forced to rely on " dry " 
taxes alone ;While the Federal control of the militia 
would deprive them of the right to compel the obe- 
dience of their subjects. 
Authorship of With each successive issue of the press thereafter, 
the number of Antifederalist pieces increased. In the 
main, the original articles were the work of a com- 
paratively few men living at or near Boston; these 

called), the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, consolida- 
tion, and the unconstitutional mode of adoption provided for. 

In addition to this pamphlet and the letter dted above, the only 
material contributions of Gerry to the literature of this contest 
were : (i) two letters in reply to Oliver Ellsworth's " Letters of a 
Landholder," one of which appeared in the Massachusetts Gasettt 
of Jan. 5, 1788, and the other in the American Herald (both being 
reprinted in Ford, Essays on the Constitution^ and in Scott, The 
Federalist and other Constitutional Papers) ; and (2) a " statement 
of facts," which he submitted to the State Convention, concerning 
the proceedings of the Federal Convention with reference to the 
Senate, and his letter to the Convention reviewing the controversy 
to which this statement gave rise. These two documents are printed 
in the Debates of the Convention (i 856), pp. 65-71, note 18. Gerry's 
influence, however, can unquestionably be traced in various publi- 
cations by others of- the Boston group of Antifederalists. 



were then copied in the papers of the interior, and, 
with articles clipped from papers outside the State, 
formed the bulk of the Antifederalist literature. From 
the nature of the case, it is difficult to identify with 
certainty the authors. Various indications, however, 
seem to justify the belief that James Warren, Benjamin 
Austin, James Winthrop, and Samuel Adams were the 
chief persons concerned.^ In general, the articles 

^ For a sketch of Warren, and reasons for connecting him with 
these writings, see Appendix. 

Austin apparently was the author of the *' Honestus " letters of 

1786 attacking the lawyers. 

James Winthrop was librarian of Harvard College from- 1772 to 

1787 ; he is said to have written over the signature of "Agrigga" 
(Gore to King, Dec. 23, 1787, Life of King, I. 265). The articles 
bearing this signature are seventeen in number, the first eleven be- 
ing addressed "to the people," the remainder "to the Massachu- 
setts Convention ; " they appeared originally in the Massachusetts 
Gazette^ between Nov. 23, 1787, and Feb. 5, 1788, and have been 
reprinted in Ford, Essays on the Constitution, and Scott, The Fed-' 
eralist and other Constitutional Papers, The author of these arti- 
cles seeks to arous e the J e ars of J h^ sh jp pi gg, interest that undue 
advantage may b^'given to other sections of the country at the ex- 
pense of Massachusetts. He shows himself opposed to Shays^s re- 
bellion and like movements, and styles a forced depreciation of the 
State debt a "dirty and delusive scheme" (Scott, Ibid,, p. 512). He 
asserts that the question at issue is " whether they will have a lim- 
ited government or an absolute one f " {Ibid,, p. 508). He argues 
at length in favor of a mere amendment to the Articles of Confed- 
eration, giving the Congress (i) a limited revenue, with a right to 
collect it, and (2) a limited right to regulate intercourse with for- 
eign nations, — alienation of State territory, conferring of special 
or exclusive trading privileges, and naturalization being expressly 
excluded {Ibid,, pp. 527, 531, 541). He is, however, ready to ac- 
quiesce in the adoption of the Constitution upon various conditions, 
among which are the following : that Congressional control over 
elections extend only to fining States which neglect to send sena- 
tors or representatives ; that the power to levy a direct tax or excise 
be refused fxhat each State shall have the command of its own 
nulitia, and that continental forces (except for guarding public 


Their evince decency, good temper, literary ability, and a 

fair amount of candor. The latter, however, is by no 
means an invariable characteristic, as will doubtless 
be evident to any one who takes the trouble to read 
the samples of that literature herewith presented. 

In order to arrive at a clear understanding of the 
causes underlying the opposition in Massachusetts, it 
will be necessary to examine at some length the most 
important of these pieces against the Constitution. The 
first to be considered are several articles which were pub- 
stores, etc.) be admitted into no State in time of peace without that 
State's consent ; that the President be chosen annually from the 
several States in succession ; that the judicial power be materially 
limited, and that trial by jury be held sacred in all cases ; that the 
States be permitted to emit bills of credit without making them 
legal tender, and to coin money according to the continental stand- 
ard ; that only such powers as are expressly given be exercised by 
any officer, and that officers offending against any State law be 
accountable to such State ; and that nothing in the Constitution 
deprive a citizen of any State of the benefits of his State Bill of 
Rights {Ibid,, pp. 555-7). 

Gore charges Samuel Adams with the authorship of a skilful 
piece of declamation signed ** Helvidius Priscus," in the Independ- 
ent Chronicle of December 27 {Life of King, I. 266). In this arti- 
cle, James Wilson's celebrated speech at Philadelphia defending 
the Constitution is taken as a text, from which the writer endeavors 
to prove that the members of the Federal Convention were lacking 
both in ability and patriotism ; yet, it is asserted, they had *' ambi- 
tiously and daringly presumed (without any commission for that 
purpose) to annihilate the sovereignties of the thirteen United 
States; to establish a Draconian code; and to bind poster- 
ity by their secret councils.'^ •* May the people," the article 
concludes, ** awake from a kind of apathy which seems to pervade 
them, before they are aroused by the thunder of arms, or the inso- 
lence of dragooning parties, to arrest from the peasant, and the 
mechanic, the last farthing of their hard earnings to support the 
splendid fabrick of Mr. Wilson's federal republic.'' This 
writer completes his arraignment of the delegates to the Federal 
Convention by asserting that they ought not to be permitted to sit 
in the State ratifying Conventions. 


lished in the Independent Chronicle^ during the month 
of December, over the signature of "Candidus," and Article by 
which were variously ascribed to Samuel Adams and 
Benjamin Austin.^ "The Constitution proposed," 
this writer maintained, "may aggrandize a few in- 
dividuals : The offices of lionor and profit^ may please 
the AMBITION of somey and relieve the EMBARRASS- 
MENTS of others. It may serve to multiply Judicial 
controversies, and embarrass the citizens of the several 
States, by appeals to a Federal Court. It may give an 
undue influence to Congress, by the appointment of a 
numerous Body of Officers. It may discourage Indus- 
try, by promoting an infinite train of dependants and 
seekers. — But the great object of commerce, — our 
national respectability, — together with industry and 
frugality, would probably be the happy consequences of " 
a Commercial Confederation." Accordingly, he pro- Proposes 
ceeds to outline such a "confederacy of commerce and ment 0^0011^ 
amity'' as he would prefer. Without going into the federation, 
details of his plan, it may be said that it amounted to 
a mere increase of the powers of the existing Congress, 
leaving these powers vested in a single house, and 
not providing for a separate executive, although a su- 
preme judiciary court for Federal purposes was con- 
templated. Experience having shown the futility of 
the attempt to secure any alteration of the Confederacy 
in the way provided for in the Articles, " Candidus " 
was willing to follow the Convention in what was rep- 
resented by many as its most unwarranted step, and to 
put his proposed scheme in execution upon securing 
the consent of but nine States.^ 

^ For the identity of " Candidus," see Massachusetts Centinel^ 
Dec 26, 1787 (article signed "Candidus," — a transparent person- 
ation) ; Dec. 29 (" Thomas \ Kempis ") ; Jan. 5 (card signed by 
Jonathan and Benjamin Austin) ; Jan. 9 (" Honestus Jr."). 

* Independent Chronicle^ Dec. 20, 1787. 


contents ; 

Articles by Similar to these letters in literary ability, but far 

\iiuj* surpassing them in extravagance of declamation, is 

a series of articles by "John de Witt," which ap- 
peared in the American Herald of Boston during 
October, November, and December, 1787. These arti- 
cles were addressed " to the free citizens of the Com- 
monwealth of Massachusetts," and their especial object 
was to influence the election of delegates to the State 

The series is constructed with consummate skill. In 
the first article the writer begins temperately with the 
statement that the eagerness with which the Consti- 
tution was received by " certain classes of oiu- fellow 
citizens " should teach the necessity of inquiry and 
delay in its adoption.^ In the next he gradually grows 
warmer, animadverts upon the lack of a Bill of Rights, 
predicts that, when the new plan is once adopted, 
amendments can never be made except by force of 
arms, and asserts that if they are to accept the Consti- 
Resuits of ao. tution they must be prepared to determine : " That the 
CoMidttidon- present Confederation shall be annihilated: — That the 
future Congress of the United States shall be armed 
with the powers of Legislation, Judgment and Execu- 
tion: — That annual elections in this Congress shall 
not be known, and the most powerful body, the Senate, 
in which a due proportion of representation is not 
preserved, and in which the smallest State has equal 
weight with the largest, be the longest in duration : — 
That it is not necessary for the publick good, that per- 
sons habituated to the exercise of power should ever 
be reminded from whence they derive it, by a return to 
the station of private citizens . . . : — That you will 
hereafter risque the probability of having the Chief 
Executive Branch chosen from among you ; and that it 

* American Herald^ Oct. 22, 1787. 


is wholly indifferent, both to you and your children 
after you, whether this future Government shall be 
administred within the territories of your own State, 
or at the distance of four thousand miles from them. — 
You must also determine, that they shall have the Dangerous 
exclusive power of imposts and the duties on imports ^^J^|J^ 
and exports, the power of laying excises and other 
duties, and the additional power of laying internal 
taxes upon your lands, your goods, your chattels, as 
well as your persons at their sovereign pleasure: — 
That the produce of these several funds shall be appro- 
priated to the use of the United States, and collected 
by their own officers, armed with a military force, if a 
civil aid should not prove sufficient: — That the power 
of organizing, arming and disciplining the militia shall 
be lodged in them . . . ; they shall have also the 
power of raising, supporting and establishing a stand- 
ing army in time of peace in your several towns, and I 
see not why in your several houses : — That should an 
insurrection or an invasion, however small, take place, 
in Georgia, the extremity of the Continent, it is highly 
expedient they should have the power of suspending 
the writ of Habeas Corpus in Massachusetts, and as 
long as they shall judge the public safety requires it : — 
You must also say, that your present Supreme Judicial and in the 
Court shall be an Inferior Court to a Continental Court, ^®^^^ 

courts I 

which is to be inferior to the Supreme Court of the 
United States: — That from an undue biass which they 
are supposed to have for the citizens of their own 
States, they shall not be competent to determine title 
to your real estate, disputes which may arise upon a 
protested Bill of Exchange, a simple note of hand, or 
book debt, wherein your citizens shall be unfortunately 
involved with disputes of such or any other kind, with 
citizens either of other States or foreign States. . . . 
In short, . . . you must determine that the Constitu- 


tion of your Commonwealth, which is instructive, beau- 
tiful and consistent in practice, ... a Constitution 
which is especially calculated for your territory, and 
is made conformable to your genius, your habits, the 
mode of holding your estates, and your particular inter- 
ests, shall be reduced in its powers to those of a City 
Corporation. . . . In this new-fashioned set of ideas," 
he concludes, "and in this total dereliction of those 
sentiments which animated us in 1775, the Political 
Salvation of the United States may be very deeply 
interested, but be cautious. " ^ 

In the third and succeeding letters his tone becomes 
more violent. Now, he maintains, was the time to 
examine the Constitution, before it was too late. Its 
advocates were ambitious men, waiting to make it the 
stepping-stone to posts of honor and emolument, men 
openly tired of Republican government and longing 
for one of force. The Constitution itself was "noth- 
ing less than a hasty stride to Universal Empire in this 
Western World, flattering, very flattering, to young 
ambitious minds, but fatal to the liberties of the peo- 
ple." Senators would be able to hold themselves com- 
pletely independent of the people, and at the same 
time insure repeated re-election. The President would 
be wholly under their influence. The small number 
of representatives, and biennial elections, would make 
The system of the House merely "an Assistant Aristocratical 
t<Kn!S<ai!*^ Branch ;" indeed, there was a possibility that eventually 
the House might be dropped and the government con- 
tinued under the Senate alone. In short, he maintained, 
" Place the Frame of Government proposed, in the most 
favorable point of view, . . . and enlarge as much as 
you please, upon the great checks therein provided, 
notwithstanding all which, there cannot remain a doubt 

^ American Herald^ Oct. 29, 1787. 


"JOHN DE WITT.** 2/ 

in the mind of any reflecting man, that it is a System 
purely Aristocratical, calculated to find employment 
for men of ambition, and to furnish means of sporting 
with the sacred principles of human nature. " ^ 

^ American Herald^ Nov. 19, 1787. In like manner, a writer 
signing himself *'A Federalist," in the Boston Gazette and 
Country Journal of Nov. 26, 1787, tries to make use of the pop- 
ular distrust of the upper classes to discredit the Constitution. 
" The hideous dxmon of Aristocracy," he writes, " has hitherto 
had so much influence as to bar the channels of investigation, 
preclude the people from inquiry and extinguish every spark of 
liberal information of its qualities." But now "the deceptive 
mists cast before the eyes of the people by the delusive machi- 
nations of its INTERESTED advocates begin to dissipate. Those 
furious zealots," he continues, "who are for cramming it down 
the throats of the people, without allowing them either time or 
opportunity to scan or weigh it in the balance of their understand- 
ings, bear the same marks in their features as those who have 
been long wishing to erect an aristocracy in this Commonwealth 
— their menacing cry is for a rigid government, it matters little to 
them of what kind, provided it answers that description." They 
demand the adoption of the Constitution, he says, because it 
"comes something near their wishes ; " they " brand with infamy " 
all persons opposing it ; they cry that ** the whole must be swal- 
lowed or none at all," and have "strived to overawe or seduce 
printers, to stifle and obstruct a free discussion, and have endeav- 
ored to hasten it to a decision." Among those favoring the Con- 
stitution, the writer of this article continues, were to be found "many 
undesigning citizens," who wished its adoption from the best of 
motives ; but these, he asserts, were comparatively modest and 
silent. The greater number were for having the people "gulp 
down the gilded pill blindfolded," whole and without any qualifi- 
cation whatever. These, he continues, " consist generally of the 
NOBLE order of C[incinnatu]s, holders of publick securities, B[an]k- 
[er]s, and L[aw]y[er]s : these with their train of dependents form 
the Aristocratic combination — the L — y — rs in particular keep 
up an incessant declamation for its adoption, like greedy gudgeons 
they long to satiate their voracious stomachs with the golden bait. 
The numerous tribunals to be erected by the new plan of consoli- 
dated empire, will And employment for ten times their present 
number ; these are the loaves and fishes for which they hun- 



Articles by 
** A Republi- 
can Federal- 



This series of articles was designed, as has been said, 
primarily to influence the elections to the Convention ; 
accordingly, it ends abruptly with the Boston election 
early in December. Almost immediately, however, 
another series, over the signature of "A Republican 
Federalist," was begun in the Massachusetts Centinely 
addressed "to the Members of the Convention of 
Massachusetts," seven numbers of which appeared 
before the ratification by the Convention abruptly 
brought it to a close. There seems to be good rea- 
son for attributing at least the greater part of these 
articles to General James Warren, for many years 
Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Represen- 
tatives.^ The argumentation is able and ingenious, 
and at times is unanswerable on strictly constitutional 
grounds. The most is made of the fact that in fram- 
ing the Constitution the delegates at Philadelphia 

ger; they will probably find it suited to their habits, if not to the 
HABITS OF THE PEOPLE.*' Hcnce he suggests that few of them be 
elected to the State Convention. 

Another writer (" Bostonian," in the American Herald o{ Feb. 4, 
1788) calls for such an amendment to the Constitution as will ex- 
clude lawyers from a seat in Congress : their fortunes, he asserts, 
depended on the inaccuracies of the law, ** its vague and ambigu- 
ous terms, its incomprehensibleness ; " hence they were the last 
persons in the world to be intrusted with the function of law-making. 

For an example of the ** stifling free discussion " alluded to by 
"Federalist" above, see the American Herald^ — the most vio- 
lent of Boston^s Antifederalist sheets, — for Nov. 26 and Dec. 17, 
1787. In the former issue the editor inquires feelingly whether the 
inhabitants of Boston have become so illiberal as to refuse their 
custom " for impartially publishing the observations of [their] fellow 
citizens at a time when the happiness of posterity depends on the 
public decision ? " After the contest was over, the Herald was 
forced to remove to Worcester, where it seems to have been 
assumed, though erroneously, that its Antifederalist tenets would 
ensure it a more liberal support. 

1 For the articles in full, and the reasons for ascribing them to 
him, see Appendix. 


exceeded the authority delegated to them; that the 
system proposed had not been " agreed to " by Con- 
gress,^ as provided for by the Articles of Confedera- 
tion: that the mode of ratification proposed was Ratification 
unconstitutional; and, finally, that ratification would JJcsSSc** 
produce changes in the Massachusetts Constitution Constitution, 
which would be a violation of that compact. *M sysietn) 
of consolidation,''^ the writer asserts, summing up a' 
long argument, " has been formed with the most pro- 
found secrecy, and without the least authority, and has 
been suddenly and without any previous notice trans- 
mitted by the federal convention for ratification. Con- 
gress, not disposed to give an opinion on the plan, have 
transmitted it to the legislatures. The legislatures have 
followed the example and sent it to the people. The Procedure 
people of this state, unassisted by Congress or their legis- c^wdSed. 
lature, have not had time to investigate the subject, 
have referred to the news-papers for information, have 
been divided by contending writers, and under such 
circumstances have elected members for the State Con- 
vention — and these members are to consider whether 
they will accept the plan of the federal convention 
with ALL its imperfections, and bind the people by a 
system of government of the nature and principles of 

1 The author was evidently acquainted with the struggle which 
had taken place in Congress when the Constitution was transmitted 
to it, and with the compromise — namely, the omission of all words 
of approval from the resolutions accompanying it — by which its 
unanimous transmission to the State legislatures had been secured. 

* That it was intended to produce a "consolidation of the 
union," which he interprets as equivalent to ** an abolition of the 
State governments" (No. VI, Massachusetts Centinel, Feb. 2, 1788, 
" Extra "), he proves by the letter to Congress accompanying the 
Constitution (No. II, Ibid,^ Jan. 2). In framing and submitting 
the Constitution, he maintains, the members, though animated by 
"honest zeal," were guilty of ** usurpation " and " tyranny " (No. 
IV, Ibid,, Jan. 12). 


which they have not at present a clearer idea than 
they fiave of the Copemican system, " ^ As for the pro- 
posed plan itself, he asserts that it is "excellently well 
adapted ... to the establishment of a baleful arts- 
Establishes /St?^nwy,"* and that it "establishes a precedent . . . for 
despotum.^^^ building on its ruins a compleat system of despotism '' ^ 

He undertakes to show that "there is a probability if 
not a certainty, that when Congress shall have estab- 
lished their revenue-acts and standing army^ which will 
be accomplished in a few years, they will reduce the 
number of representatives so low, and regulate their 
elections in such a manner, as effectually to destroy 
Property will the representation of the people. '* Property, he asserts, 
reprcsentafion will probably be made the basis of apportionment and 
and suffrage, ^j^e suffrage, "whereby sixty or a less number of 
wealthy men, may elect as many representatives as 
sixty thousand yeomen."* All difficulties will be 
evaded by m ea ns of the " om nipotent " necessarv-and- 
proper cla use, and by the abolition of the State gov- 
ernments|wnich will follow the adoption of the Consti- 
tution.* Thus, only a few persons, he maintains, will be 
eligible to office. On the other hand, the revenue laws 
and the civil establishment "will necessarily produce 
through the Continent swarms of officers," with whom 
will act the military officers, militia officers, and all 
the officers of the late army. With such support, how 
and Congress easy then will it be for Congress, which will be com- 
dectionir^ posed of able men, to "establish the elections of federal 

representatives at the metropolis [or] any other place, in 
each state, and when this is effected, to collect the con- 
gressional or crown officers (as they soon will be called) 

^ No. II, Massachusetts Centinet^ Jan. 2, 1788. 
« No. VII, Ibid., Feb. 6, 1788. 
« No. IV, Ibid,, Jan. 12, 1788. 

* No. VI, Ibid,, Jan. 30, 1788. 

• No. VI, Ibid, Feb. 2, 1788, "Extra." 

" HAMPDEN." 3 1 

at that place, and carry the elections for these senators 
and representatives who shall be in the aristocratical 
interest of the federal government, leaving out all 
honest republicans^ who shall have been so vulgar as to 
have paid any regard to the interest of their constitu- 
ents? " ^ In fine, he maintains, there were but two safe 
courses for the Convention to pursue. One was to ad- Advises ad- 
journ until the sense of Virginia, the second great }eturao"con- 
leader of America, could be known : the other was " to stitution to 


return the proceedings of the federal Convention to the 
legislature," to be remitted to Congress, there to be 
amended and re-submitted to the States in a manner 
agreeable to the provisions of the Articles of Confed- 
eration. The acceptance of the Constitution as it 
stood, he claimed, would be in effect a dissolution of 
the government of Massachusetts, a violation of the 
compact contained in the State Constitution, and hence 
could not be binding on the citizens of the State.* 

Of quite a different stamp from the foregoing were Letters o£ 
two letters which appeared in the Ccntinel ol January "M*™pd*^'^- 
26 and February 2, and which equally with the above 
were designed to influence the action of the Conven- 
tion. The signature attached to these was "Hamp- 
den ; " the author may, possibly, from internal evidence, 
be identified with James Sullivan.* In them a series 

^ No. VII, Massachusetts Centinel^ Feb. 6, 1788. 

* No. V, Ibid.^ Jan. 19, 1788; also No. I, Dec. 29, 1787. The 
Federalists grew exceedingly restive under this stream of absurd 
argumentation. Their temper is shown by a card addressed to the 
author of the articles. "But thou — Oh! the extremity of cow- 
ardice ! " it runs, " afraid to be a rogue, and not wishing to be an 
honest man, art chequered with a mixture of open depravity and 
deceiving profession." It asks him whether he considers the 
** tender laws " a violation of compact, and advises him to desist. 
(JHd,, Jan. 16, 1788.) 

* The objections stated by Sullivan in a letter to Rufus King, 
Sept 28, 1787, are, so far as they go, identical with those advanced 


of amendments was proposed, some of which might 
well have been adopted. They provided (i) for the 
limitation of Congressional regulation of elections to 
cases where States might themselves refuse to prescribe 
Proposed time and place therefor; (2) for the issue of the writ 
amendments, of habeas corpus by the State Supreme Courts, as well 
as by the Federal Courts; (3) for the elimination of 
the word " taxes " from the section defining the powers 
of Congress, thus restricting the possible sources of 
revenue to "duties, imposts and excises; " (4) for the 
omission of the words "between a State and citizens 
of another State," and "between citizens of different 
States," in the section defining the jurisdiction of 
the Federal Courts: "Laying a State liable to be 
sued," he says, "robs it of all its sovereignty;" (5) 
for the trial by a jury of all issues of fact ; and (6) for 
jury trial "in, or near the County," in criminal cases. 
The provision of the Constitution concerning amend- 
ments he liked exceedingly, so far as it related to 
amendments the necessity for which should arise after 
the new government had gone into operation; but for 
those the necessity for which now seemed apparent, 

by " Hampden" {Life of Kingy I. 259). Moreover, in 1789 Sulli- 
van published a pamphlet against the suability of the States ; and 
this also is one of the points of objection upon which stress is 
laid by "Hampden." From Amory's biography of Sullivan we 
learn that he was suspected, at the time, of writing other articles 
against the Constitution. On the other hand, it is pretty certain 
that Sullivan was the author of seven rather vigorous Federalist 
articles, over the signature " Cassius," which appeared in the 
Massachusetts Gazette between Nov. 27 and Dec. 25, 1787 (re- 
printed in Ford, Essays on the Constitution^ and Scott, The Fed- 
eralist and other Constitutional Papers). This in itself is not 
incompatible with his authorship of the " Hampden " letters as 
well; but "Hampden/' in his communications, expressly states that 
he has not had a hand in the publication of previous articles con- 
cerning the Constitution. Still, this is not conclusive. 

" Cornelius 


he advocated a different procedure. Let the State and advises 
Conventions ratify on condition that the new Congress ratification, 
should, at the very outset, in joint session, voting by 
States, take into consideration the amendments pro- 
posed by the several Conventions, those in which any 
seven States agreed to be forthwith incorporated into the 
Constitution; if there were none in which seven States 
agreed, then the Constitution should remain as it was. ^ 
As has before been stated, most of the articles 
against the Constitution — and for it, too, it may be 
added — originated at or near Boston. In the inte- 
rior of the State only two contributions of any consid- 
erable length seem to have been made to the literature 
against the new system. One of these appeared in Letters of 
the Hampshire Chronicle of December ii and i8, and 
is given in the Appendix to this paper. It is an able, 
fair-minded production, showing a considerable degree 
of political knowledge and independence of thought; 
but it is tinctured with a democratic jealousy of 
government and a distrust of commercial interests 
which was then characteristic of most of the rural dis- 
tricts of this State. The proposed Constitution, this 
writer maintained, was a subversion of the compact 
contained in the Articles of Confederation. The 
abandonment of annual elections, of the power to re- 

^ Massachusetts Centinel^ Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, 1788. The plan 
of amendment here suggested differs somewhat from that proposed 
by others. ** An Old Whig," following apparently the course sug- 
gested by R. H. Lee (to Samuel Adams, Oct. 5, 1787, Memoir of 
R, H. Lee^ II. 74), proposes: (i) That each Convention state its 
objections and propose its amendments; (2) that these be trans- 
mitted to Congress, to be referred to another Federal Conven- 
tion ; (3) that the States pledge themselves to abide by the 
result; (4) if for any reason a Convention should fail to meet, then 
let the State Conventions pass finally upon the Constitution as 
it stands. See Salem Mercury^ Dec. 18, 1787, from Freeman's 



gress over 

call delegates in Congress, and of their payment by the 
individual States, were material defects in the scheme. 
The power of each house to judge of the qualifications 
of its members was "equal to that of a negative on 
Power of Con- elections in general." The writer could conceive of 
only one reason why power to prescribe the times, 
manner, and especially the places of elections had 
been given to Congress, — namely, that thereby it 
might manipulate the elections in favor of its own mem- 
bers, by holding them in " such particular parts of the 
several States where the dispositions of the people shall 
appear to be the most subservient to the wishes and 
views of that honourable body ; or where the interests 
of the major part of the members may be found to lie." 
Furthermore, it would be possible for Congress to 
prescribe that elections should be by a plurality and 
not by a majority vote. This would benefit the sea- 
board, or mercantile section, at the expense of the in- 
terior, or agricultural section. On the seaboard the 
population was numerous, and intercourse was con- 
stant ; voters there would thus be enabled to " centre 
their votes where they please." In the interior the 
case was different. There the inhabitants were scat- 
tered far and wide, and had but little intercourse with 
each other. For them to concert plans for carrying 
an election was accordingly out of the question : their 
votes, " if given at all, will be no less scattered than 
are the local situations of the voters themselves. . . . 
Thus I conceive," the writer continues, "a foundation 
is laid for throwing the whole power of the federal 
government into the hands of those who are in the 
mercantile interests ; and for the landed, which is the 
great interest of this country, to lie unrepresented, 
forlorn, and without hope."^ In elections to the 

^ In both this and the preceding series of articles, it will be 
observed, the assumption is made that the election of representa- 

interest will 


presidency, he feared that venality and corruption Corruption 
would enter, and that there would be " violent compe- ^^it^^^^^ 
titions " between individuals, between States, between 
the east and the south, and that pretexts for armed con- 
flict would easily be found. The burden of taxation, 
he thought, would be insupportable; the apportion- 
ment of direct taxes he knew to be unequal and injuri- 
ous to the non-slaveholding States. In fine, he said, 
he should be most agreeably disappointed, if the new 
government did not " prove, in its operation, to be one 
of the most unequal, arbitrary, oppressive, venal and 
corrupt governments that is extant. " ^ 

The other article contributed to the discussion by Article by "A 
the western part of the State appeared in the Worcester * ™*°* 
Magazine for the first week in February, 1788, over the 
signature of " A Watchman. " It is stated to be the 
first production against the Constitution in Worcester 
County. In political and literary ability it is far below 
the preceding article; but its prevailing tone is that of 
gross ignorance and misconception, rather than of po- 
litical knavery. It illustrates, probably, the eflfect of 
inflammatory articles, such as those by "A Republi- 
can Federalist" and "John de Witt," upon the mind 
of the average farmer, and may be looked upon as rep- 
resenting the sentiments of the majority of the Anti- 
federalists of that section. The new Constitution, the 
author asserts, "appears much like an aristocrat ical 
form; and will, if it is established, demolish a part of 

tives to Congress would be held in each State in practically the 
same manner as that in which elections for Parliament were held 
in England in each county, — namely, in a primary meeting, in which 
all representatives for that State would be chosen, and to which all 
persons must come or lose their votes. This assumption is com- 
paratively common in the Antifederalist literature. That it was 
legally possible to adopt such a method seems indisputable. 
^ Hampshire Chronicle^ Dec. 11 and 18, 1787. 


and military 

Freedom of 
religion, of 
speech, and 
of the press. 

State govern- 
ments almost 

our democratical government, and deprive us of a part 
of our liberties." If they should suffer it to be estab- 
lished, " it is probable that in a few years some design- 
ing men will attempt to pull that down, and set up one 
that is monarchical, and so bring the country under a 
military government." Then follow the specific ob- 
jections which he finds to the new system. Jews, 
Turks, and heathen may hold even the highest offices 
under the Constitution, but " there is no liberty given to 
the people to perform religious worship according to the 
dictates of their consciences." Freedom of speech and 
the liberty of the press are not provided for. To vest 
the legislative power in three branches "will be a 
great clog to business, and a hindrance to the making 
of laws with expedition and dispatch." The age and 
residence qualifications for office will sometimes de- 
prive " men that are endowed with the wisdom that is 
from above, from entering into Congress. " The Consti- 
tution "augments the members of Congress, and makes 
the government more expensive. " It deprives the peo- 
ple of the liberty of choosing their delegates annually 
and recalling them at pleasure. It "almost annihilates 
the state governments, and deprives their legislation 
[sic] of the power of making their own laws." It makes 
no provision against keeping up standing armies in time 
of peace. It " deprives the people of the power of levy- 
ing and collecting their own taxes." It vests Congress 
with the power to tax all the States, enforcing payment 
by means of the army. It "deprives the people in the 
several states of the liberty of making their own con- 
stitution, and vests it in the hands of Congress." 
Finally, it "deprives the inhabitants of each state of 
the power of choosing their superiour and inferiour 
judges. "» 

^ H^arcisUr Afagtui9^% IV. 242-3. 


From the foregoing account a sufficient idea may be 
gained of the temper, the objections, the arguments, 
and the course advocated by the opponents of the Con- 
stitution, so far as these were expressed in the public 
prints. Even under the best circumstances, however, 
it is difficult to determine the exact degree of sincerity 
which attaches to such utterances. Their prime object 
is always to influence the minds of other men ; hence 
party or personal interest, or the natural desire to make 
good one's cause, frequently leads to the enunciation 
of views that would not privately be maintained. 
Accordingly, it will be well to reinforce the above ex- 
position by a few extracts from private letters. In Private let- 
these we may hope to get at the real opinions of those '"*' 
who opposed the adoption of the new plan of Federal 

Among the few letters of this sort which have come 
down to us, those from Thomas B. Wait, of Portland, Thomas B. 
are noteworthy. A printer, and a citizen though not Portland, 
a native of Boston, he had left the Chronicle, on which 
he had been employed, and in 1785 had established the 
Falmouth Gazette, or, as it was soon called, the C«w- 
berland Gazette, the first newspaper published in the 
province of Maine. He was a man of ardent tem- Hischaractcr. 
perament, outspoken, strong-minded and independ- 
ent of character. It is significant of him that he was 
always more or less unpopular in the community in 
which he lived, because of his freedom of speech, 
his advocacy of unpopular candidates, and, later, his 
warm support of the nascent theatre.^ As the pub 
lisher of a newspaper, the arguments of both sides in 
the Constitutional contest came to his hands. Like 
many another, he favored the Constitution when he 
first saw it, because, as he said, of his love and venera- 

» Willis, History of Portland, pp. 596-8. 


his course. 

tion for Washington and Franklin; but the "unprece- 
dented Conduct of the Pennsylvania Legislature," in the 
means used to call its State Convention,^ disposed him 
to lend an ear to the arguments of the opposition, in 
the belief that they had been ill used. Then came the 
address of the seceding members of the lejgislature of 
that State; he found this "like the Thunders of Sinai, 
its lightnings wero irresistible." Thereupon he began 
a careful examination of the subject, reading "every 
argument " put forth by either side. As a result, he 
was soon "constrained to say" that he was dissatisfied 
with the proposed system, and was forced to open hos- 
tilities upon it in his paper. 

His objections he details at some length to George 
Thatcher, one of the Massachusetts delegates in Con- 
gress. As the latter was one of Wait's most intimate 
friends, and at the same time an ardent Federalist, 
Wait's letters bear all the marks of candor and sincer- 
ity. He did not condemn the new system "by the 
Bill of Rights lump," but only in part. A Bill of Rights, he thought, 
would remedy most of the evils which he saw, or thought 
he saw. "I consider the several States," he said, "to 
stand in a similar relation to the Nation, and its Con- 
stitution — as do individuals to a State and its Consti- 
tution — the former have certain rights, as well as the 
latter that ought to be secured to them — otherwise . . . 
the whole will be ' melted down ' into one nation; and 

His objec 


^ The aristocratic party happened to be in power in Pennsylvania 
at the time when the Constitution was reported by the Federal 
Convention. As their tenure of power was precarious, they not 
only used great precipitancy in calling a convention for ratification, 
even introducing resolutions for a convention before Congress had 
formally transmitted the new plan to the States , but also resorted 
to mob violence to compel the attendance of members of the op- 
posing party, who had bolted in order to break the quorum. See 
McM aster and Stone, Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution. 


then, God have mercy on us — our liberties are lost — 
The vast Continent of America cannot be long sub- 
jected to a Democracy, if consolidated into one Gov- 
ernment — you might as well attempt to rule Hell by 
Prayer. " The argument which Thatcher adduced from 
the origin of the English Bill of Rights, Wait charac- 
terized as of no worth; such a declaration, he main- 
tained, was as good to defend liberties as to gain them. 
So, too, he denied the soundness of the argument which 
James Wilson, in his famous speech, drew from the dif- 
ference between the State Constitutions and the one 
prepared for the Federal government: if in the former 
all power not reserved was given, argued Wait, while 
in the latter all power not expressly given was reserved, 
why then was it necessary to put limitations on the 
power of the Federal government in the matter of sus- 
pending the writ of habeas corpus^ passing bills of at- 
tainder, conferring titles of nobility, etc. } The danger 
was increased by the nature of the new plan itself. 
"There is," he maintained, "a certain darkness, du- studied 
plicity and studied ambiguity of expresion running consfitution 
thro' the whole Constitution which renders a Bill of 
Rights peculiarly necessary. — As it now stands but 
very few individuals do or ever will understand it, con- 
sequently Congress will be its own interpreter. " For 
instance, take the article on taxation and representa- 
tion: this, he maintained, was a "puzling Cap." If by 
"all other persons " it meant slaves, "who, in the name 
of God, but the majority of that hon^ body, would ever 
have tho't of expressing like ideas in like words!" 
These ideas, too, were worse than their mode of ex- 
pression; for why should "a Southern negro, in his 
present debased condition," be represented more than Representa- 
" a northern Bullock " .? In conclusion, he turned the *'°" °^ *^*''^*- 
tables upon Thatcher by earnestly exhorting the latter 
to reconsider his own opinion with reference to the 


Constitution, confident that on further consideration 
he too must take his stand with the opposition.^ 
"^ As Thomas B. Wait represented one type of the 
Silas Lee,of intelligent opposition, so Silas Lee, of Biddeford, rep- 
Biddcford. resented another. The latter was then a young man of 
twenty-seven, a native of Concord, and a graduate of 
Harvard College. He had studied law with Thatcher 
at Biddeford, and now had just begun what was to 
prove a notable career as a member of the Maine bar.^ 
His letters show that he was possessed of an able and 
well-balanced mind, open to conviction. His attitude 
toward the Constitution, therefore, is significant. He 
had not, he wrote to Thatcher, any fixed objections. 
Lack of Bill of but he had some very grave doubts. The lack of a 
Sj^rtion'!' *" ^^'^ ^^ Rights, however, which gave his friend Wait 
so much anxiety, was " not one of them " : as such a bill 
would give up all rights not particularly secured therein, 
it might make the Constitution more dangerous, un- 
less it curtailed some powers already given. His 
doubts related to the positive provisions of the Consti- 
tution, rather than to its omissions. The three-fifths 
representation of slaves, he feared, would give the 
southern States an undue influence in legislation. 
The Congressional control of elections left unsecured 
even what representation had been given to the eastern 
States. Sexennial elections for senators, unless guarded 
by rotation, — say, two successive terms and then ineli- 
gibility, — he feared, would be dangerous. The powers 
given Congress, he thought, were too general: might 
Implied not the general-welfare clause, he asked, " be construed 

powers. ^Q extend to every matter of legislation," and Congress 

under it be enabled to stop as libellous the publication 

* Letters to Thatcher, Nov. 22, 1787, and Jan. 8, 1788, Thatcher 
Papers s Nos. 3 and 11. 

* Willis, Law^ Courts^ and Lawyers of Maine^ pp. 152-4. 


of all criticisms on the government ? He was afraid, 
too, that there were implied powers in the Constitution ; 
else why were there any negatives or restrictions put 
on Congress ? Under the Constitution, the holders of 
State securities, he thought, would have a remedy for 
non-payment thereof, by suit in a Federal court against 
the State issuing the same. Finally, why was the 
Constitution "a compact of Individuals, instead of 
a Confederacy of States " ? He feared that thus the Consolidation 
Constitution would "finally consolidate the States — ^«*rcd. 
or rather totally annihilate the State Governments;" 
Wilson's celebrated argument based on the necessity 
to the Constitution of the State governments being in 
his opinion inconclusive, owing to the power of Con- 
gress to regulate elections. He foresaw, he said, that 
he would be told that these fears were founded in dis- 
trust of the rulers. Experience, however, had taught 
mankind that there was danger in giving up too much 
power. If there was no need of restraint, if Congress 
would have only the greatest interest of the people in 
view, why then was there need of a Constitution at 
all ? Why not " give them the power of governing us 
at pleasure " ? 

Such was the attitude of Lee in January, before Lee's ob- 
reading the arguments used in the Massachusetts Con- Jcmoved. 
vention. These, however, "removed almost every 
doubt or difficulty from [his] mind," so that on 
news of the ratification with the recommendation of 
amendments, he was able to " sincerely congratulate " 
Thatcher upon the adoption as the safest alternative 
presented. ^ 

Another young lawyer whose views on the Constitu- William 
tion have come down to us is William Symmes, of l^^^r'.^^ 

* Letters of Jan. 23, Feb. 7, Feb. 14, Feb. 29, Thatcher Papers^ 
Nos. 19, 28, 33, 42. 


of his views. 

Equality of 
States in the 

Andover. He graduated from Harvard in 1780. He 
then spent some time in Virginia as a private tutor, 
studied law with Theophilus Parsons at Newbury- 
port, and finally, about 1783, opened an office in the 
north parish of Andover, — the first law-office in 
the town.^ On the one hand, his opinions possess 
greater importance than those of Lee, because he 
was elected delegate to the State Convention ; on the 
other, their candor is less certain, as the letter con- 
taining them, though professedly written for the perusal 
of its recipient only, bears the earmarks of a declara- 
tion of the platform on which he stood for election to 
the Convention. Views may have thus been brought 
to the fore which he knew would secure him the favor 
of his strongly Antifederalist constituents. There is 
in the letter a good deal of such rant as we should ex- 
pect in a town-meeting speech on the subject; but, 
because of his course in the Convention, it will be 
well to go through the document and pick out the real 
objections alleged against the proposed system. 

First, he finds the ratio for the apportionment of 
direct taxes unequal and unjust. The equality of 
representation that lingers in the Senate is a great 
grievance: it is "ridiculous" that Delaware should 
have as much weight in that body as Massachusetts. 
The power of Congress over the regulation of elec- 
tions calls forth a great deal of poor rhetoric; so, too, 
the exemption from publication of such parts of the 
Journals of Congress as in the judgment of that body 
require secrecy. Of the taxing power he says : " A more 
general . . . surrender of all y* property in the United 
States to Congress could not perhaps have been 
framed." More temperate objection is made to the 

* Memorial discourse by N. W. Hazen : Essex Institute, His- 
torical Collections^ October, 1862 ; see also Willis, Law^ Courts^ 
and Lawyers of Maine^ pp. 1 49-5 1 . 


power to maintain an army in time of peace. To the 
exclusive jurisdiction granted over the proposed Fed- 
eral district he does not object in itself, as it will ren- 
der Congress " secure from little mobs, and so it ought 
to be; '' but he objects to its presence in the Constitu- 
tion. When he reaches the clause prohibiting to the Bills of credit 
States the power to emit bills of credit, or to make ^^^^ ^^ 
tender laws, he exclaims, " Here I suppose the princi- 
pal weight of opposition will hang." For his own 
part, he was " directly opposed to paper money " in 
almost any case; but he thought that the States ought 
to have the power to issue, though not to make such is- 
sue legal tender: otherwise, they would "be in a worse 
situation than any individual, who, if he has not the 
cash in hand, may give his promissory note. " As to the 
other tender laws, he thought them " but poor expedi- 
ents," yet "such as a state may possibly need." Con- 
sequently, he wished that "the abolition of these 
abuses might be deferred until we are in a more pros- 
perous situation. " The treaty-making power he thought Treaty-mak- 
not sufficiently guarded : two-thirds of a quorum of the L^p^^ting 
Senate — that is, ten members — might with the Pres- powers, 
ident make any treaty they pleased ; while eight sena- 
tors were enough in like circumstances to appoint 
ambassadors, judges, and almost all officers. The 
President he rails at as an "elected King," and criti- 
cises the absence of a provision for a council to share 
with him the duties of his office. To the judicial power 
he objects, on the ground that appeals might carry a 
suitor six hundred miles to the seat of the Federal 
Court. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as to 
law and fact, he in common with many others found a 
great objection. Finally, the clause guaranteeing a 
republican form of government to every State, he 
thought, "meddles too much with the independence of 
the several States," while it "answers no valuable 


Too much left end." In conclusion, it seemed to him that too much 

Congresses. ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^ future Congresses to supply. The 

States were strictly confined to their own business, 
and even in this their powers were not a little cir- 
cumscribed. "In short," he said, "the system would 
make us formidable abroad, and keep us very peaceable 
at home, and, with some amendments, might do very 
well for us, if we would be contented to become citi- 
zens of America, and confuse the thirteen stripes, and 
change the stars into one glorious sun. ... So great 
a revolution was never before proposed to a people for 

Advises delib- their consent. . . . Let us equally shun a hasty ac- 
ceptance or a precipitate rejection of this all-important 
scheme. " ^ 

1 Letter of Nov. 15, 1787, to Captain Peter Osgood, Jr. : Essex 
Institute, Historical ColUctums^ October, 1862. 




In the foregoing account of the discussion of the 
Constitution, it has been necessary to anticipate some- 
what the official action of the State upon the subject. 
This began on October 1 8, with Governor Hancock's ThcGover- 
speech opening the session of the State legislature. "O"" * *<ldreM. 
Although the opposition was not then so pronounced 
as it was later to become, the first burst of applause 
with which the new system was received had sub- 
sided, and it had become evident that the new plan of 
government was not to be adopted in Massachusetts 
without a struggle. Doubtless this fact had its influ- 
ence in determining the Governor's treatment of the 
matter. He had directed the Secretary, he said, to 
lay before the legislature the documents received from 
Congress; but inasmuch as it was "not . • . within 
the duties of [his] office to decide upon this momen- 
tous affair," he contented himself with calling atten- 
tion to the "truly respectable" characters of the 
gentlemen who had framed the Constitution, and their 
remarkable unanimity in accomplishing so complicated 
a task; adding that he was persuaded that the dele- 
gates in the Convention which was to be called "will 
be able to discern that, which will tend to the future 
happiness and security of all the people in this exten- 
sive country."^ 

* Worcester Magazine^ IV. 43 ; Debates of the Convention 
(1856), p. 18. 



Parties in the 

Action of the 

The legislature to which the Constitution was thus 
referred was distinctly "populistic," to use a term of 
our own day. It had been elected, at the same time 
with Hancock, in the reaction against the vigorous 
administration by which Governor Bowdoin had a few 
months before put down the revolt of Shays and his 
followers. The strength of the rival forces in the 
body may be seen from the fact that, by a vote of one 
hundred to seventy-five, steps were soon after taken in 
the House for the continuance of the Tender Act.^ 
It is interesting, therefore, to note with some care 
the measures proposed as to the Constitution, for they 
afford additional indication of the attitude which was 
being taken by the debtor-democratic element through- 
out the State. 

In the Senate a motion for calling a convention was 
made on October 19, the day after the matter was 
submitted to the legislature by the Governor. This 
passed on the 20th, apparently without opposition. 
On the 22d the matter came up in the House, where 
it was debated at length. Dr. Kilham of Newbury- 
port opposed the measure. It was inexpedient to "for- 
ward " the proposed government, he maintained, as it 
might lead to confusion and civil war; it was unjust to 
do so, because it destroyed the compact contained in 
Opposition in the Articles of Confederation. Some persons had said 
ouse. ^j^^^ "unless the new government was pressed into 
immediate adoption it would not go down." This 
was one reason why he was opposed to a premature 
transmission of the business to a convention. An- 
other member, William Widgery of Maine, who was 
to play a prominent part in the Convention, favored 
its transmission to the people, but objected to the mode 
provided for that purpose. Some of the towns, he 

1 Massachusetts Centinel^ Nov. 7, 1787. 


maintained, were too poor to support a delegate to the Reference to 
Convention; accordingly, he favored the method by ^y^^^^S. 
which the State Constitution had been ratified, and 
which Rhode Island was shortly to adopt with refer- 
ence to the Federal Constitution, namely, a submission 
of the matter directly to the people in their town- 

Had this proposition prevailed, the proposed sys- 
tem would unquestionably have been rejected by an v 
overwhelming vote. The avowed motive for direct 
action by the voters was, however, taken away by an 
amendment providing that the delegates should be Amendments 
paid out of the public treasury; and this proposition ^^^ House, 
was thereupon dropped. An attempt then was made 
to change the place of meeting from Boston to some 
town where the Convention would be less exposed 
to dangerous mercantile and aristocratic influences. 
One member moved to hold it at Worcester; another 
at York, Maine. This diversity of views saved the 
provision as it stood. Two other amendments were 
made, however, which were distinctly, though legiti- J 
mately, in the democratic interest. One of these 
changed the date of meeting from the "second Wed- 
nesday of December next," as provided by the Sen- 
ate, to the "second Wednesday of January," and was 
designed to give the people more time to consider 
the matter. The other provided for the distribution 
of three copies of the Constitution, instead of but 
one as provided by the Senate, to each town in the 
Commonwealth ; while additional precautions were in- 
serted to secure prompt and certain delivery. The 
tendency of these alterations was distinctly toward a 
more intelligent decision. With these amendments 
the call then passed the House, October 24; though Call issued 
thirty-two out of one hundred and sixty-one mem- Oct. 25. 
bers still opposed the measure. On the next day the 


Senate concurred in the amendments, and the call 
was issued.^ 
Action of Thus the matter was transmitted to the towns for 

the towns. ^YieiT action. Nothing could be more helpful in deter- 
mining the causes of the opposition to the Constitution, 
than a knowledge of the debates and the votes which 
thereupon ensued in the town-meetings throughout the 
State. With such information we could be more cer- 
tain of penetrating the minds of the average voters, 
and ascertaining their doubts and fears, their ideals of 
government, the secret springs of their action. Such 
knowledge, however, is almost totally denied to us. 
The records of many of the towns contain only the 
names of the delegates chosen, without mention of 
votes cast or instructions given. The town histories 
usually glide over this subject with at best a few gen- 
eral remarks. It is only here and there that more can 
be learned. 
Towns failing In spite of the vital importance of the question at 
gates? ^^ issue, it appears from the Journal of the Convention 

that out of a total of some three hundred and eighteen 
towns that were entitled to send delegates, forty-six 
refused, or failed so to do.^ It should be stated, how- 
ever, that this number is considerably smaller than 
the history of the General Court would have led one to 
expect. Of the delinquents, thirty-one were from 
Maine, and were for the most part the more recently 

1 The manuscript resolve in the archives at the State House is 
the only source showing the amendments made. The debates were 
reported (from memory) in the Massachusetts Centinel of Oct. 27, 
1787, and in other papers of the time ; the account given by the 
Independent Chronicle is reprinted in the Debates of the Conven- 
tion (1856), pp. 19-21 ; the call itself may be found on pp. 22-4 of 
the same. 

• The Journal of the Convention may be found in the edition of 
the Debates of the Convention issued by the State in 1856. 



incorporated districts, where the pressure of debt and 
the struggle with the wilderness limited political in- 
terest chiefly to the election of the sheriff.^ Four of 
the remaining fifteen were on the Cape, where the 
prevailing interests were almost equally removed from 
the general current of politics. 

In most of the towns, the majority of the inhabit- 
ants had already taken their stand either for or against 
the proposed system, and delegates were chosen who 
Were known to be in sympathy with the views of the 
majority. At Vassalborough, Maine, when it was Vassalbor- 
found that the delegate who had been elected was in To^ham.Me. 
favor of the Constitution, another meeting was held, 
he was "turned . . . out,*' and another, who was "de- 
sidedly against it," was chosen.^ At Topsham, in the 

^ The people of Maine, according to Willis (^History of Portland^ 
p. 601), had taken little interest in the question until the time came to 
choose the delegates, for the reason that communication was difficult 
and the public mind was not easily brought to bear upon the matter. 
The movement for separation from Massachusetts, which then 
occupied the public mind, may also help to account for the apparent 
apathy of large portions of the inhabitants of that province. 

At Biddeford, the town held a meeting, December 12, to choose 
delegates ; but, in the language of a Federalist, " a dumb Devil 
seized a Majority & they voted not to send, & when called on 
for a Reason they were dwrnh^ mirabiU dictu!^^ (Jeremiah Hill 
to Thatcher, Dec. 12, 1787, Thatcher Papers, No. 6.) A petition 
to reconsider the matter was, however, presented to the selectmen, 
and at the meeting called in resjjonse thereto it was decided by 
a vote of 25 to 23 to send a delegate; then by a vote of 18 to 30 
an Antifederalist was chosen. (Hill to Thatcher, Jan. i, 1788, Ibid., 
No. 9.) No return of the election, however, seems to have been 
made, nor did the delegate, "A. Smith," attend the Convention. 
The representation from the county as a whole, Hill sums up as 
**4 pro's and 10 con's." "However," he adds, "I think we are 
better represented in this Convention than we have been at the 
G. C. these two years past : if I recollect right we never had more 
than three & sometimes no more than one who were for opposing 
Shays vi et armis.** (Jbid,) ^ Ibid.^ No. 19. 





at Great 

A Federalist 

same province, the delegate stated in the Convention 
that his town "considered it seven hours, and after 
this there was not one in favor of it. " ^ 

At Great Barrington, Berkshire, one of the chief 
seats of the troubles of the preceding year, there was a 
very animated contest. At a meeting held November 
26, an Antifederalist delegate was chosen by a small 
majority and a committee of four was appointed to draw 
up instructions for him. The report made by this com- 
mittee recites, (i) that the legislature had gone beyond 
its authority in sending delegates to the Philadelphia 
Convention; (2) that even had the delegates been 
constitutionally appointed, their commission extended 
only to amending the Articles of Confederation ; and 
(3) that the Constitution that had been presented to 
them was " by na means Calculated to Secure to us and 
our Poserity those Estimable Liberties and Provileges 
which God and Nature have given us a Right to 
enjoy. Secure and defend : " therefore the delegate was 
instructed " Not to give [his] vote for the adopting the 
said Constituion," and to call for the yeas and the nays 
on the question, "that the world may know who are 
friends to the Liberties of this Commonwealth and 
who not." After an animated and protracted session, 
an adjournment of one week was secured, without ac- 
tion on the foregoing report. The attendance at the 
next meeting was larger than for many years ; and it 
was voted, fifty-five to fifty-one, not to accept the in- 
structions, and to reconsider all votes passed at the 
previous meeting. Then the Federalist candidate, who 
had been defeated at the former meeting, was elected 
by a narrow majority. ^ 

* Debates^ p. 197. 

* Taylor, History of Great Barrington^ pp. 317-8. See also 
the remonstrance of the defeated party to the Convention, in De- 
bates of the Convention (1856), pp. 53-5, note 12. 


At Sheffield, in the same county, the Antifederal- Sheffield, Wii- 
ists claimed that the hat in which the ballots were "^d^Roxbiry. 
deposited was stuffed by their opponents, and that per- 
sons who were not qualified were voted, to secure the 
election of the Federalist candidate.^ At Williams- 
town, also in Berkshire, the election was contested on 
the ground that the decision in favor of the Antifederal- 
ist candidate was illegally reconsidered, and snap judg- 
ment taken at a subsequent meeting. ^ At Roxbury, 

* Remonstrance, in Debates^ p. 52, note 1 1. The remonstrants 
say : " We wish for nothing more than to have a firm Stable inir- 
getick Government both Federal and State . . . ; but when we 
see a certain Set of Men among us not only ravenously greedy to 
Swallow the new Fedderal Constitution them Selves but making 
the greatest exertions to ram it down the Throats of others with- 
out giving them time to taste it men too who we have reason to 
immagin, expect expect \sic\ to have a Share in Administering the 
new Federal Government when we See Such Men fraudulently 
and basely depriving the People of their Right of Election, thret- 
ning awing deceiving Cheating & defrauding the Majority in the 
manner above mentioned it is to us truly alarming." See Papers 
of the Convention of 1 788, State House. 

^ In a remonstrance to the Convention, the Antifederalists 
recite that at a meeting duly held, Mr. William Young was elected 
delegate "by a great Majority." ** It was then motioned," the 
remonstrance continues, *' to desolve the meeting, the Moderator 
then replied that the meeting was desolved, the people then began 
to draw off and in the evening when but few people were present 
they proceeded to adjourn the meeting to a future day, and on the 
day of the adjournment, precisely at the time a Small Number only 
being being \sic'\ present the meeting was opened, a number of 
persons present put in their votes, and the Moderator turned the 
Hatt before the people from the remote parts of the Town Could 
come in and the moderator declared Col. ThomP J. Skinner to be 
Chosen." The remonstrants then recite that " the Town j2:enerally 
being dissatisfied with the proceedings," it was voted to adjourn the 
meeting as *• Illegal," and that they then proceeded, "as the Law 
directs," to call a new meeting for January i, at which William • 
Young was again elected by a majority of 91 votes. The remon- 
strance is signed by 69 "Freeholders." The committee of the 



Suffolk County, corrupt practices were alleged in the 
way of "expensive and sumptuous entertainments 
made to Electors immediately previous to the Elec- 
tion " by the candidate favoring the Constitution.^ 
Stockbridge At Stockbridge, Berkshire, the contest was of a 
worthier character. There, Theodore Sedgwick, after 
/ a lengthy argument, convinced the opponents of the 
Constitution of the necessity for ratification, and se- 
cured his own election to the Convention, where he 
played a leading part.^ Chief of whom was John 
Bacon, a man of considerable reputation in the State 
for ability and integrity. 

Convention to which it was referred, however, reported that it was 
'* unsupported,*' and the Federalist candidate was allowed to take 
his seat. See Papers of the Convention of 1788, State House; 
the remonstrance may also be found, with errors of spelling and 
punctuation corrected, in the Debates^ pp. 51-2, note 10. 

^ American Herald^ Dec. 10, 1787. 

2 Worcester Magazine^ IV. 139; Life of King^ I. 264. Bacon 
was a graduate in theology of Princeton College, and had preached 
in Maryland and at Boston. At the latter place difficulties with 
his congregation had caused him to give up the ministry. He then 
moved to the western counties, and entered politics, holding at 
various times the positions of magistrate, representative in the 
legislature, judge of the Court of Common Pleas, member and 
president of the State Senate, and (1801-1803) representative in 
Congress (Lanman, Biographical Annals). While the Constitu- 
tion was before the people, Bacon changed his views on the subject 
several times. In a dignified and manly card in the Massachusetts 
Centinel oi Jan. 12, 1788, he says that, soon after the Constitution 
appeared, he had come to believe that it " was predicated on princi- 
ples subversive of some of those rights, of which men in civil society 
ought never to be divested," and hence would have an " unequal 
operation, and prove too burdensome to the body of the people ; " 
that afterwards he was " induced to give up his opinion to that of 
his friends, and what he took to be, the sense of the publick." 
'* On more mature deliberation," he adds, " he has been constrained 
to resume his former opinion," and as his sole answer to the attacks 
that have been made upon him he claims the right to his own 
private judgment. 


At Boston the Antifederalists exerted themselves, Contest at 
and there was an animated and protracted contest ; but ^^*°"- 
the odds were against them. As has already been 
stated, the letters of "John de Witt" were designed 
primarily to influence the voters of Boston against the 
proposed system; less pretentious efforts, also, may 
be found in the papers of the day in any quantity. 
A unique instrument to the same end was an inflam- 
matory handbill, which was posted and dropped about 
the streets of Boston on November 13, and which was 
"liberally distributed" among the "political fathers" 
at the State House. The practical identity of the 
objections urged in it with those put forth in the 
letters of " Agrippa,"^ points unmistakably to James 
Winthrop as its author; and the complicity of James 
Warren is obviously hinted at in the Massachusetts 
Centinel of November 24. The contents of the bill 
were as follows: — 

"Disadvantages of Federalism upon the 

New Plan 

1. The Trade oi Boston transferred to Philadelphia; and the 
Boston tradesmen starving, 

2. T\\t Discouragement o{ Agriculture fhy \\\t loss oi Trade. Antifederalist 

3. People indolenty dissolute, and vicious , by the loss of Liberty. ^*"^^*^*- 

4. An infinite Multiplication of Offices, to provide for ruined 

5. A Standing Army, and a Navy, at all Times kept up, to 
give genteel Employment to the idle and extravagant. 

6. Importance of Boston annihilated. 

7. The wealthy retiring to Philadelphia to spend their reih 
enueSy while we are oppressed to pay Rents and Taxes to 

* For an anal3rsis of the letters of " Agrippa," see above, page 
21, note. 


8. Liberty of the Press restrained. 

9. Trial hy Jury abolished. 

10. Habeas Corpus done away. 

11. Representatives chosen in such a numner^ as to make it a 
Business for Life, 

12. The Bill of Bights repealed. 
And, 13th. Beligion Abolished. 

All these Reasons, and many more, require the plan to be 

amended^ and made conformable to the Circumstances of the 

People. The same objections are made in every State. — 

Bouse then, and regulate the Business so as to be friendly to 

Industry^ Trade and Arts. Your Ships now go to every Part 

of the World, and carry your Produce. Then^ they may go to 


Truth." » 

* American Herald^ Nov. 19, 1787. Immediately foUowing the 
above in the Herald, with nothing to indicate whether or not it is 
part of the original handbill, is the following : — 

" Admiralty Office, Philadelphia. 

"The following Letter was received last evening, from 'Admiral 

, commander of the squadron of his Highness the President 

General, gone against the rebels of Massachusetts, dated on board 
the Tyrant, in Boston Harbour, August 21st 1794, and directed 
to the Right Honourable Mr. K[in]g, his Highnesses principal 
Secretary of State. 

** * . . . The strength of the squadron enabled me to pass the 
fortress on Nantasket with considerable ease. ... I am informed 
by a fish boat, which was taken coming out yesterday, that the 
Rebels have every thing in readiness at Castle Wilson (formerly 
Castle William) to give us a very warm reception. The two old 
Ships that were hauled up in this port are dropt down to assist in de- 
fending the pass at the Castle, but, I think, we have nothing to fear 
from them, as, although they have pressed every seaman in the 
port they could not raise but two hundred; the reason of this is, 
the poverty and misery of tlie place consequent on the transfer 
of Commercial and Political importance from hence to the center 
of Wealth and Empire, Although from all these circumstances, 
I have no doubt of giving your Lordship a good account of this 
Province in my next ; yet I submit it, whether it will not be policy 


"To insure more entire harmony," it was decided, Factors affect- 
apparently, to select the twelve delegates to which the *°^ '®**^*' 
town was entitled equally from the Hancock and Bow- 
doin factions.^ For the first time in the history of 
Massachusetts elections, tickets or lists of candidates 
were published for the inspection of voters before the 
date of the meeting. As finally selected, the list of 
delegates "was the effect of a junction of the North 
& South caucuses^ — a thing," according to Gore, 
" often before attempted, but never, till this hour, with 
success."' It included the names of Governor Han- 

in future to conciliate these fellows by a restoration of sofne of their 
commercial advantages, as for instance, to allow them to send one 
or two Ships annually to the Indies, or extend a little the limitation 
of their vessels employed in fishery^ neither the India Company 
nor the other fisheries would be materially injured by it. . . . The 
Bostonians, your Lordship knows, were formerly remarkably tena- 
cious both of their Political and Commercial advantages; the 
instant annihilation of the one, the rapid decline of the other, and 
the entire innovation on the habits of the country in consequence 
of the establishment of the present Government, may reasonably 
be supposed therefore, to cause a temporary commotion. 

" * From some intelligence I received yesterday, I have some 

reason to suppose Field Marshal C r will invest the place by 

land in a few days, his army is in excellent order. The instant he 
arrives I will dispatch a packet to your Lordship.' " 

^ Amory, Life of Sullivan^ L 221. 

* The North-end caucus was composed of mechanics, mainly 
ship-builders ; its list was published in the Massachusetts Centinel 
of December 5. Among the four other lists that may be found 
in the papers of the time, it is difficult to determine which, if either, 
is that issued by the South caucus. 

» To King, Dec. 9, 1787, Life of Kin^, L 262. The list of 
persons elected, with the votes, was as follows: Hancock, 751; 
Bowdoin. 760; Thomas Dawes, Jr., 749; William Phillips, 740; 
Rev. Samuel Stillman, 739; Dr. Charles Jarvis, 714; John Win- 
throp, 661 ; John Coffin Jones, 635; Samuel Adams, 628 ; Thomas 
Russell, 610; Caleb Davis, 603 ; Christopher Gore. 517. {Massachu- 
setts Centinel, Dec. 8, 1787.) The small vote for Gore is ascribed 
by him to the opposition manifested toward him by Jarvis, Adams, 


cock, Ex-Governor Bowdoin, and Samuel Adams. 
With four exceptions, the delegates were all Federal- 
ists ; and means were found whereby even these four 
were kept silent in the Convention, and their votes 
ultimately secured for the Constitution. 
Action of Some towns gave their delegates positive instructions 

insttu^ons. ^ ^^ ^^^ ^^V ^^ which they should vote. For example, 

Brunswick (Maine) voted, twenty-three to seven, to ac- 
cept the Constitution as it stood. ^ The neighboring 
town of Harpswell voted to accept it with amendments. * 
Harvard (Worcester County) instructed its delegate to 
vote in the negative, on the ground that "the proposed 
Constitution will, if adopted, efifectually destroy the 
sovereignty of the States, and establish a National 
Government, that, in all probability, will soon bring the 
good people of the United States under Despotism."^ 

and others. Gushing, Oliver Wendell, and Joseph Clarke, whose 
names appear on the North-end list, were defeated, apparently, in 
the town-meeting. The names that appear in other lists, but not 
in the list of elected delegates, are those of James Sullivan, Stephen 
Higginson, Samuel Barrett, Perez Morton, Major William Bell, Dr. 
John Warren, Robert Treat Paine, Benjamin Austin, John Sweet- 
ser, Jonathan Mason, Jr., Larson Belcher, and Ebenezer Storer. 
Robert Treat Paine and James Sullivan are said to have been 
" extremely mortified '* at their defeat. (See Gore's letter, cited 
above.) The vote cast at this meeting, in spite of the importance 
of the issue, was little more than one-half that cast at the next 
gubernatorial election. (See returns in Ittdependent Chronicle^ 
April 10, 1788.) In the election for delegates, however, the polls 
were kept open only from 10 : 00 till 12 : 30 {Boston Gazette^ Dec. 10, 
1787); possibly this was not the case in the gubernatorial elections. 
1 Wheeler, History of Brunswicky Toptham^ and Harpswell^ 

p. 132. 

* Ibid.^ p. 171. 

» American Herald^ Jan. 21, 1788. As "a few of the most 
material " objections to the Constitution, this town names : the lack 
of a Bill of Rights, the election of senators for six years, the power 
of Congress to alter the time and manner of elections, its unlimited 
power of taxation, the four-year term of the President and Vice- 


Sandwich (Barnstable County) also instructed abso- 
lutely against it, whereupon one of the delegates who 
had been elected, although he was then " not in favour 
of the constitution," exclaimed that under such in- 
structions " the greatest ideot may answer your purpose 
as well as the greatest man," and resigned.^ Other 
towns, such as Lancaster (Worcester County) and Sher- 
bom (Middlesex County), although they voted instruc- 
tions, yet qualified them in such a manner as really to 
leave their delegates free.^ Others, such as Northamp- 
ton (Hampshire), Westminster (Worcester), Andover 
(Essex), and Wells (Wells County, Maine), voted not 
to give instructions.* Most of the delegates seem not Most 
to have been instructed either way ; but the choice of uninl^ctecL 
a delegate in sympathy with the views of the majority, 
and his knowledge of the cool reception, if not worse. 

President and the dangerous powers of the former, the extensive 
power of the judiciary, and the lack of a religious qualification for 
office. The opinion was also expressed, that amendments might 
be made to the Confederation by merely vesting greater powers in 
Congress, ** without so totally changing and altering the same, as 
the proposed Constitution has a tendency to [do]." 

• Salem Mercury^ Jan. 15, 1788. In some cases freedom of 
decision seems to have been given the delegate later. In a letter 
from Boston, Jan. 30, 1788, it is stated that " Some of the dele- 
gates, who were instructed by the towns they represented to vote 
against it [the Constitution] at all events, have returned home and 
informed their constituents that so much light had been thrown 
upon the subject that they could not, as honest men, hold up their 
hands in opposition to the Constitution. The towns have sent 
them back and directed them to vote as they thought best." {New 
York Advertiser, Feb. 8, 1788; cited by Libby, i9«///r//« of the 
University of Wisconsin, No. I. p. 77.) 

• Marvin, History of Lancaster, p. 322 ; Morse, Genealogical 
Register ofSherbom and Holliston, p. 304. 

• Hampshire Gazette, Nov. 28, 1787; Hey wood, History of 
Westminster, p. 189; Diary of William Pynchon, p. 297 ; B^ey, 
Historical Sketches of Andover, p. 397 ; Bourne, History of Wells 
and Kennebunk, p. 540. 


which he would receive upon his return if he went 
counter to the wishes of his constituents, operated in 
most, though by no means in all cases, to produce a 
harmony between the votes cast in the Convention 
and the actual wishes of the people. 



The Convention that assembled at Boston, January g, Composition 
1788, was the largest called in any State to pass upon comrcntion. 
the Constitution, the names of three hundred and 
sixty-four delegates being returned to it, three hun- 
dred and fifty-five of whom were present when the 
final vote was taken. It was the most complete rep- 
resentation, according to Jeremy Belknap, "that ever 
was made of the State of Massachusetts. Men of all 
professions, of all ranks, and of all characters, good, 
bad, and indifferent,'* he said, composed it.^ Ac- 
cording to one member, eighteen or twenty of those 
present had actually been in Shays's army the year 

^ Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings^ 1858, p. 296, 
note. In the Worcester Magazine^ IV. 231, is the following poeti- 
cal characterization of the Convention, clipped from the Mc^ssachu- 
setts Centinel of Jan. 12, 1788 : — J 

•* Concenter'd HERE th' united wisdom shines 
Of learned JUDGES, and of sound DIVINES ; 
PATRIOTS, whose virtues, searching times have try*d, 
HEROES, who fought, where BROTHER HEROES d/d 
LAWYERS, who speak, as TULLY spoke before, 
SAGES, deep read in philosophick lore ; 
MERCHANTS, whose plans, are to no realms coufin'd, 
FARMERS —the noblest title of mankind, 
YEOMEN and TRADESMEN— pillars of the State: 
On whose decision hangs COLUMBIA'S fate." 

* Madison Papers, II. 669. 




Governor Hancock, whose influence with the common 
people was great, ^ was elected to the chair, in order, 
as a Federalist said, "that we might have the advan- 
tage of [his] name, — whether capable of attending or 
not. " 2 On the Federalist side the leaders were men of 
ability and established reputation, such as Nathaniel 
Gorham, Caleb Strong, and Rufus King,^ all of whom 

^ Partly because of " his wealth and social rank . . . and the 
chivalrous patriotism " with which he had gone into the Revolu- 
tion (Colonel Joseph May, in Wells, Lt/e of Samuel Adams, III. 
258) ; partly also because he had catered to them (see, e, g.j Pyn- 
chon's Diary, p. 54). 

■ Gore to Thatcher, Thatcher Papers, No. 12. 

* Although he had been a stanch Federalist ever since the 
Constitutional Convention assembled at Philadelphia, King had, 
on his first entrance into national politics, been an opponent to 
every attempt to increase the Federal power. Massachusetts, it 
will be remembered, by her resolves in 1 785 requesting Congress 
to call a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation, had 
taken the first official action toward such an assembly. These 
resolves, as is well known, Gerry, Holten, and King, who were 
then the Massachusetts delegates in Congress, refused to lay 
before that body, on the ground that the Articles of Confederation 
were as yet untried, and hence the move was premature ; that 
temporary commercial powers might be found to answer the needs 
of the general government as well as a permanent provision, 
and would be safer for the States ; that the attempt to alter the 
Articles through a convention would be discourteous to Congress, 
as indicating a lack of confidence in that body ; and, lastly, that 
" such a measure would produce thro'out the Union, an exertion 
of the friends of an Aristocracy to Send members who would pro- 
mote a change of Government: & we can form some judgment 
of the plan, which Such members would report to Congress." 
The next year we find King quoting approvingly the words of 
J John Adams : " Congress can do all a convention can, & cer- 
tainly with more safety to original principles." Inside of five 
months, however, we find his stand with reference to a Conven- 
tion changed. " For a number of reasons," he writes, Feb. 1 1, 
1787, "although my sentiments arc the same as to the legality of 
(this measure, I think we ought not to oppose, but to coincide with 


had sat in the Federal Convention; Ex-Governor 
Bowdoin; Generals Heath and Lincoln; the rising 
statesmen, Theodore Sedgwick, Theophilus Parsons, 
and Fisher Ames. Of those openly in opposition there / 
was scarcely a member who could be compared with 
these. Dr. Samuel Holten, of Danvers, who with Principal 
Gerry and King had in 1785 refused to present the re- ists absent' 
solves of the Massachusetts legislature recommending 
a Federal Convention, was almost the only exception; 
and he was present only a portion of the time, ill 
health, in all probability,^ compelling his withdrawal 
long before the final vote was taken. The "old 
patriot," Samuel Adams, of whose secret opposition 
there can now be no doubt, was induced by various 
considerations to refrain from openly proceeding 
against the proposed system. Oliver Phelps, who had 
served in the commissary department during the war, 
and had grown rich as a merchant in Berkshire County, 
had been elected to the Convention ; but becoming con- 
vinced, apparently, that opposition would be unsuccess- 
ful and unpopular, he had resigned his seat before the 
Convention met.^ Nathan Dane, who with Richard 

this project." Shays's rebellion was one, but not the only, factor 
in producing this change in King^s opinions. A careful reading 
of his letters for this period conveys the impression of growing 
dissatisfaction with the workings of the government under the 
Articles. With longer service in Congress, and a better knowledge 
of the needs of the nation (he had been only thirty, and in his 
second year as delegate, in 1785), King had been gradually coming 
to a more Federal view of political matters; and it would seem 
that it was this gradual growth, rather than any particular event, 
which had led to the change. On these points, see Life of King, 
I. passim. 

^ See Dane to King, Aug. 12, 1787, Ibid.., I. 257. He was pres- 
ent in the Convention only eleven days. See Papers of the Con- 
vention of 1788, State House : Pay-Roil of the Convention. 

* Gore to King, Dec. 30, 1787, Ibid.^ I. 266. The influence 
of Osgood of the Treasury Board, by whom he was *<much 



Henry Lee had taken the lead in Congress in the 
attempt to amend the Constitution before submitting 
it to the States,^ was mortified on his return to Massa- 
chusetts to find all whom he respected in favor of the 
new system; he had therefore held his peace,^ but 
nevertheless had been rejected by the voters of Beverly, 
Gerry's rela- in favor of George Cabot.' Gerry, apparently, had 
Convention. ^^^ '^^^^ ^ Candidate ; Cambridge was so strongly Fed- 
eralist that an election may have seemed to him hqper 
, less.f When the Convention assembled, however, on the 
motion of the opponents of the Constitution, a motion 
which the friends of the new system dared not oppose,* 
he was invited to take a place on the floor to answer 
such questions as might be put to him ; but within a 
few days trouble arose because, unasked, he offered 
certain information, a wrangle ensued which for a time 
threatened very serious consequences, and thenceforth 
Gerry stayed away from the Convention. • 

written to on the new Constitution," seems to have been the deter- 
mining factor. 

1 Madison to Washington, Sept. 30, 1787, Madison Papers^ II. 


« Gore to King, Dec. 23, 1787, Life of King^ I. 265. 

» Bancroft, History of the Constitution^ II. 260. 

-* < Gorham to King, Dec. 12, 1787, Life of King, I. 263. Gerry 

received only two or three votes at the election. See Gore to 

King, Dec. 23, Ibid.y p. 265. 

• ** Considering the jealousies which prevail with those who 
made it," wrote King, Jan. 16, 1788, "... and the doubt of the 
issue — had it been made a trial of strength — several friends of 
the Constitution united with their opponents and the resolution 
was agreed to." Ibid,^ p. 313. 

• The best accounts of this affair are given by Belknap in his 
minutes (Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings^ 1858, p. 
299), and in his letter to Hazard^ Jan. 20, 1788 (Massachusetts 
Historical Society, Collections^ Fifth Series, III. 7-^). See also 
King to Madison, Jan. 16 and 20 {Life of Kingy I. 313-4) ; Gerry's 
letter to the president of the Convention (Debates, p. 65, note 18) ; 


Who, then, were the Antifederalist leaders in the Andfederalist 
debates of the Convention? A half-dozen obscure men, ^^*^^'^- 
it must be answered, whose names are utterly unknown 
even to most students of this period.^ William Wid- William 
gery (or Wedgery) of New Gloucester, Maine, was one ^ncw^' 
of these. A poor, friendless, uneducated boy, he had Gloucester, 
emigrated from England before the Revolution, had 
served as lieutenant on board a privateer in that con- 
test, had then settled in Maine, had acquired some 
property, and by 1788 had served one term in the Mas- 
sachusetts legislature. After the Convention he was 
to serve a number of years in that body, and one term 
in Congress; and with the knowledge gained from 
some years' service as Justice of the Peace, he was to 
engage in the practice of law against the opposition of 
the bar and the bar rules, and finally end his life as 
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. ^ 

Samuel Thompson, of Topsham, Maine, was another Samuel 
of the Antifederalist leaders. A self-made man, he to^SS^,M^ 
had the obstinacy of opinion which such men often 
show. In the Revolution he had been appointed briga- 
dier-general of militia; but he is reported to have seen 
no real service, and is supposed to have been somewhat 
deficient in courage. He was wealthy, for the times, 

and comment on the same by ** A Spectator" in the Massachusetts 
Centineloi Feb. 2, 1788 {Debates, p. 71). 

^ Other members on the Antifederalist side, however, partici- 
pated in the debate. In Pennsylvania three men had done prac- 
tically all the talking for the opposition, while the rest sat silent, 
except when called upon to vote. In Massachusetts the debate 
s was much more general, a result largely due to the town-meeting 
training of the members. 

* Willis, Law, Courts^ and Lawyers of Maine, pp. 272-4; His^ 
tary of Portland, p. 632, notei. According to another account, 
he was bom in Philadelphia (Lanman, Biographical Annals), Like 
most of the Maine Antifederalists, he was in 1 787 an ardent advo- 
cate of the separation of Maine from Massachusetts. 


but inclined to be niggardly. In the Maine movement 
for separation in 1787 he had taken a prominent part. 
He had served for a number of terms in the General 
Court, and had there established a reputation as a furi- 
ous haranguer, which in the Convention he was fully to 
sustain. ^ 
Samuel Nas- Another determined opponent of the proposed Con- 
ford^Mcf"' stitution was Samuel Nasson (or Nason), of Sanford, 

Maine. ^ Born in New Hampshire, and a saddler by 
trade, he became a store-keeper in Maine, served 
awhile in the war as quartermaster of a regiment, then 
as captain of a matross company, and finally settled 
as a trader at Sanford, where he soon became promi- 
nent in town affairs. In 1787 he served a term in 
the General Court, but declined a re-election because 
he felt "the want of a proper Education I feel my 
Self So Small on many occasions," he wrote to George 
Thatcher, "that I all most Scrink into Nothing Besides 
I am often obliged to Borrow from Gentleman that 
had advantages which I have not."^ His town had at 
first voted not to send a delegate to the Convention, 
but, as an inhabitant of the county puts it, Nasson 
"come down full charged with Gass and Stirred up a 
2nd Meeting and procured himself Elected, and I pre- 
sume will go up charged like a Baloon."* The same 
person, writing from Boston shortly after the adjourn- 
ment of the Convention, asserts that Nasson was one 

* Wheeler, History of Brunswick^ Topsham, and Harpswell. 
pp. 81 1-6. Pynchon, at Andover, notes in his Diary (p. 298) 
that on February 5 nothing of importance was done in the Con- 
vention, " Boreas' blasts having equalled Gen* Thompson's." 

* The author of this paper desires to acknowledge his indebted- 
ness to Mr. Edwin Emery, of New Bedford, Mass., and to Mr. 
G. E. Allen, of Sanford, Maine, for much interesting information 
concerning Samuel Nasson. 

* Thatcher Papers^ No. 37. 

* David Sewall to Thatcher, Ibid,y No. 10. 


of several who " had Speaches made out of Doors. " ^ 
The letters of " Laco " insinuate that Dr. Charles Jarvis, 
one of the delegates from Boston, was the author of one 
of these speeches.^ 

From Massachusetts proper, Dr. John Taylor, of Dr. John 
Douglas, Worcester County, was the most prominent J^J^^l^^ 
opponent of the new Constitution. He, Widgery, and 
Nasson are styled by Rufus King " the champions of 
our Opponents."' But the slightest information, it 
seems, can now be gathered as to his history and per- 
sonality. He had been one of the popular majority in 
the legislature of 1787, where he had taken an active 
part in procuring the extension of the Tender Law.* 
This, however, appears to have been his only term of 
political service before entering the Convention.^ As 
to his character, Jeremy Belknap tells us in his com- 
ment on the debates in the Convention, that "he is 
cunning and loquacious, but more decent " than Wid- 
gery, Thompson, and Nasson.® Another delegate from 
this part of the State who was prominent in the oppo- 
sition was Captain Phanuel Bishop, of Rehoboth, Bris- Capt. Phanuel 
tol County. In him the Rhode Island virus may be Rcho&th. 
seen at work. Of his life we possess fuller details 
than we do of Taylor's. He was a native of Massachu- 
setts, and had received a public school education. 

* Thatcher Papers^ No. 41. 

* Letters cf Laco (reprinted as Ten Chapters in the Life of John 
Hancock y New York, 1857), p. 38. 

» To Thatcher, Jan. 20, 1788, Thatcher Papers, No. 17. This 
letter is omitted from the Life and Correspondence of Rufus King^ 
now being published. 

* Massachusetts Centinel^ Nov. 7, 1787. 

* In neither the House nor the Senate Journals has the author 
been able to find his name, except for this one year, despite a rather 
close examination covering the years 1 775-1 790. 

^ Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings, 1858, p. 296^ 



When or why he had been dubbed Captain, is not 
now apparent. Belknap styles him "a noted insur- 
gent;"^ and he had evidently ridden into office on 
the crest of the Shaysite wave. His first legislative 
experience had been in the Senate of 1787, where he 
had championed the debtor's cause. After the adjourn- 
ment of the Convention he was to serve in the Senate 
three terms more, in the legislature four terms, and in 
Congress four terms. ^ From his speeches in the Con- 
vention, it is evident that he was equally pertinacious 
with the Maine leaders, while in native ability and 
training he excelled them. 
Course of To the foregoing list of Antifederalist leaders 

Turnc^r! of / "light be added the name of Charles Turner, of Scituate, 
Sdtuatc. V Plymouth County, who during the first few days of the 

Convention was unquestionably the ablest and most 
dignified, as well as one of the most sincere, opponents 
of the new government. He had seen much and honor- 
able service in the civil aflfairs of his State, serving in 
the Senate in 1773-74, and again continuously from 
1780 to the sitting of the Convention. Soon after 
the opening of the session of that body, however, lie 
was seized with a sickness which confined him fo 
his bed for three weeks, removing him from the scene 
of action during the most important part of the de- 
bates. His r6/e as leader of the Antifederalists, 
consequently, was much less important than it would 
otherwise have been. Furthermore, his influence was 
ultimately exerted and his vote cast in favor of the 

* Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings^ 1858, p. 301. 

• Poore, Political Register and Congressional Directory; 
Lanman, Biographical Annals, 

^ See his letter of January 21, 1788, in Papers of the Convention 
of 1788 ; Senate Journals, 1 780-89, /^jJiVwy Deane, History of Scit- 
uate^ p. 106. 


Had a vote been taken on the adoption of the Con- strength of 
stitution as soon as the Convention assembled, there ^^'■^*- 
can be no question but that it would have been over- 
whelmingly against the proposed plan.^ In the public 
prints much injury had been done to the Federalist 
cause by the intemperance of its advocates. In the 
Convention the Federalist leaders were wise enough 
to adopt a more conciliatory policy. They "avoided 
every question, which would have shown the division of 
the House. "2 It was voted that the Convention "will 
enter into a free conversation on the several parts [of 
the Constitution], by paragraphs, until every member 
shall have had opportunity to express his sentiments Caution of 
on the same; after which the Convention will consider ^^^^J^'s^* 
and debate at large the question .* . ., before any vote 
is taken expressive of the sense of the Convention upon 
the whole or any part thereof."* Throughout the ses- 
sion, the opponents of the Constitution seem in the 
main to have been treated with delicacy and considera- 
tion. Their objections were respectfully listened to; 
their arguments patiently answered over and over 
ag^in. All antagonisms, of course, were not thereby and its good 
removed; all suspicions were not thereby allayed. ^^^^^' 
Conciliation could not reach all, nor could argument 
eflface all objections. Nevertheless, this conciliatory 
policy undoubtedly made possible the ultimate triumph 
of the Federalist cause. It led some, at least, to give 
a candid hearing to the advocates of the Constitution; 

* Jan. 22, 1788, Nasson wrote Thatcher that he ** guessed " there 
would be about 192 votes against 144 for ratification {Thatcher 
Papers^ No. 18). After the contest was over, Knox wrote to 
Washington, Feb. 10, 1788 : "It is now no secret that, on the 0]:)en- 
ing of the Convention, a majority were prejudiced against it." (Z?^ 
bates^ p. 410; Drake, Life of Knox, p. 151.) 

* King to Madison, Jan. 27, 1788, Life of King, I. 317. 

* Debates, p. 100. 




Nature of 

of emphasis 
on Bill of 

and that hearing once obtained, the superior eloquence 
of the Federalists and the superiority of their cause, 
coupled with the famous "conciliatory proposition" 
introduced by Governor Hancock, ultimately secured 
enough converts to change the balance of opinion and 
produce a majority in favor of ratification. 

In the main, the objections urged in the Convention 
were the same that had filled the papers for the past 
four months, neither better nor worse. Some were 
directed toward defects in the plan submitted by the 
Convention, which are now generally admitted to have 
been real and remediable, and which received attention 
at the hands of the first Congress under the Constitu- 
tion. Others were directed toward provisions which in 
the light of history seem equally to have been defects, 
but which were the results of real compromises in the 
Federal Convention, and hence under existing condi- 
tions were irremediable. Other objections seem to 
us now merely trivial, or founded in ignorance, social 
jealousy, and narrowness of mind. We should re- 
member, however, that the past one hundred years have 
been pregnant with changes that have contributed 
enormously to widen the horizon of men's minds, and 
have operated to separate us much more widely from 
the men of 1788 than they were from the men of 1688. 
This explains, in part, the emphasis that was put on 
the lack of a Bill of Rights, to secure the persons and 
property of citizens from the excesses of arbitrary 
power. In times which then seemed fairly recent, two 
Revolutions costing much blood and treasure had been 
needed to procure those by no means empty rights ; and 
the men of 1788 could not foresee the great industrial 
and political changes which in the next hundred years 
were to remove all such dangers among Anglo-Saxons. 
The natural attitude of a patriotic citizen of that time 
was indicated by a delegate in this Convention : " Re- 


linquishing an hair's breadth in a Constitution," he 
explained, " is a great deal ; for by small degrees has 
liberty in all nations been wrested from the hands of 
the people. " ^ 

It will not be necessary to consider at length the Biennial 
objections put forward by the opposition. At the very ^ *^*®'^ 
beginning of the discussions, several days were spent 
on the subject of the biennial election of representa- 
tives. "O my country!" exclaimed General Thomp- 
son, "never give up your annual elections; young men, 
never give up your jewel ! " ^ Another member thought 
that nature pointed out the propriety of annual elec- 
tions by its annual renewal.^ In the end, the advisa- 
bility of biennial elections for representatives was con- 
ceded by the majority. Then all the arguments against 
the power given Congress to alter State regulations for 
the election of representatives to that body were re- 
hearsed. Captain Phanuel Bishop, of Rehoboth, as- 
serted that "the moment we give Congress this power, Powertoregu- 
the liberties of the yeomanry of this country are at "** 

an end. " * Another exclaimed that he would not trust 
"a flock of Moseses;" that by this provision Con- 
gress could restrict the franchise to those having fifty 
or one hundred pounds sterling per annum. ^ Still 
another argued that it was " a genuine power for Con- 
gress to perpetuate themselves; a power that cannot 
be unexceptionably exercised in any case whatever. " ® 
On this point the opposition could not be moved. 

Other objections were urged to the provisions con- Represcnta- 
cerning representation. Thompson wished to see a 

^ Charles Turner, of Scituate ; see Debates^ p. 129. 

* Ibid,>t p. 113. 

* Charles Turner ; see Ibtd,^ p. 109. 

* Ibid,^ p. 121. 

* Abraham White, of Norton; see Ibid,<t p. 126. 

* Charles Turner; see Ibid.y p. 128. 


property qualification, and a disqualification for age.^ 
Dr. Taylor wanted to know why they should "leave 
the good old path " of paying the representatives out 
of the several State treasuries.^ Charles Turner, of 
Scituate, thought a rotation in the lower House neces- 
sary, "to guard against the deep arts of popular men."' 
Much objection was made to the length of term for 
senators. William Jones, of Bristol, Maine, thought 
that they ought to be chosen annually; if they behave 
well, he said, they might then be rechosen ; otherwise 
they ought not: as it was provided in the Constitu- 
tion, senators would take their families with them to 
the seat of government, and forget their own States.* 
Several members, not clergymen, by the way, but old 
farmers from the outlying counties, waxed eloquent 
Religious test over the lack of a religious test for office: as one put 
desired. j^^ j^^ « shuddered at the idea, that Roman Catholics, 

Papists and Pagans might be introduced into office ; 
and that Popery and the Inquisition may be established 
in America. *' * 

^ Debates^ pp. 133, 134. Parsons, in his minutes, however, repre- 
sents Thompson as opposing a property qualification in this con- 
nection, and ascribes this objection to another delegate. {Jbid,y 
p. 298.) 

« Jbid,^ p. 152. 

* Parsons *s minutes, Ibid,^ p. 295. 
< Ibid,^ p. 307. 

• Major Thomas Lusk, of West Stockbridge; see Ibtd^^ p. 
251. It is of interest to note in this connection, as another in- 
stance of lingering Puritanism, that William Jones, the delegate 
above cited, objected to the proceedings of the Convention, on the 
ground that they had not first *' asked advice of God " about the 
Constitution by means of a public fast before the Convention met 
To remedy this omission, he moved, January 19, that a fast be 
held ; the motion, however, was not seconded (Parsons's minutes, 
/^/V/., p. 307). The sessions each morning were opened by prayer 
from the clergy of Boston, the various denominations serving by 


To the sections relating to slavery and the slave-trade Slavery 
many exceptions were taken. The comparison made slave-trade, 
was not with the existing status under the Articles of 
Confederation, but with the ideal desired. "If the 
southern States would not give up the right of slav- 
ery/' exclaimed the irrepressible Thompson, "then we 
should not join with them;" adding, "Washington's 
character fell fifty per cent, by keeping slaves."^ 
James Neal, a Maine Quaker,^ informed the Conven- 
tion that, unless the clause forbidding interference 
with the slave-trade for twenty years was removed, he 
must vote against ratification, "how much soever he 
liked the other parts of the Constitution;"^ and vote 
against it he did. To the three-fifths representation 
of slaves it was justly objected that, "in legislation, 
one southern man with sixty slaves, will have as much 
influence as thirty-seven freemen in the eastern 
States. " * In its relation to taxation, the new rule of 
apportionment was generally felt to be unjust to New 
England, but Dr. Holten, from his experience in Con- 
gress, admitted its necessity, as it was "all the rule 
we can get."^ 

To the powers vested in Congress, and to the juris- Powers of 
diction and procedure of the proposed Federal Courts, ^®'*K^*^» 
there was also much objection made. Concerning the 
former, one member thought that, with the checks of 
annual elections, rotation, and recall removed, "our 
Federal rulers will be masters, and not servants;" and 
that "bribery maybe introduced here, as well as in 
Great Britain; and Congress may equally oppress the 
people."^ Most of the debate centred around the 

^ Parsons's minutes, Debates^ p. 320. 

* ThatcJur Papers^ No. 9. » Debates^ p. 222. 

* Widgery ; see Parsons's minutes, Ibid,^ p. 303. 

* Parsons's minutes, Ibid.y p. 302. 

^ Major Martin Kinsley, of Hard wick; see Ibid,^ pp. 161-2. 


clause concerning taxation.^ To the grant of power to 
lay duties, imposts, and excises, no objection was made ; 
but the inclusion of the word "taxes," i. e.^ "dry'' 
or direct taxes, raised a storm of protest. Instead 
of being an extraordinary source of revenue to be 
used only in case of war or other severe drain on the 
resources of the government, it was thought that this 
concerning would be the Ordinary mode of taxation. Recollecting 
taxation. ^j^^ successful effort which the mercantile class in 

Massachusetts had made since the war to resist the 
imposition of duties on trade, the landed interest in 
the Convention maintained that most, if not all, of the 
Federal revenue would come from land and poll taxes. 
"They won't be able to raise money enough by im- 
post," exclaimed an old Worcester County farmer, who 
had seen much service in the General Court, "and 
then they will lay it on the land, and take all we have 
The jodidary. got. " ^- To the provisions concerning the judiciary it 
was objected that tribunals "little less inauspicious 
than . . . the Inquisition " might be set up ; and that 
Congress was not "restrained from inventing the most 
cruel and unheard of punishments, and annexing them 

^ It is of interest to note, among the arguments used by 
Federalists for the clause as it stood, the plea that it would enable 
Congress to encourage domestic manufactures by means of a pro- 
^'hibitory tariff. ** The very face of our country," exclaimed 
Thomas Dawes of Boston, 'Meads to manufactures. Our numerous 
falls of water, and places for mills, where paper, snufi^ gunpowder, 
iron works, and numerous other articles, are prepared — these will 
^isave us immense sums of money, that otherwise would go to 
i^ Europe. The question is, have these been encouraged? Has 
\ Congress been able, by national laws, to prevent the importation of 
such foreign commodities as are made from such raw materials 
as we ourselves raise. ... If we wish to encourage our own 
manufactures — to preserve our own commerce — to raise the value 
of our own lands — we must give Congress the powers in ques- 
tion." {Debates^ pp. 158-9.) 

^ Amos Singletary ; see Ibid,^ p. 203. 


to crimes, and there is no constitutional check on 
them, but that racks and gibbets may be amongst the 
most mild instruments of their discipline. " ^ 

We have now reached a point in our investigation Analysis of 
where we may hazard an analysis of the elements ^PPo**^®**- 
entering into the opposition to the Constitution. The 
data from which our conclusions are to be drawn con- 
sist, in the first place, of the articles, letters, and 
speeches in which those who were opposed to the 
Constitution gave the reasons for their course, to- 
gether with the arguments by which they endeav- 
ored to win adherents to their cause. It has been 
one of the purposes of this paper to put before the 
reader enough of this literature to enable him inde- 
pendently to form an estimate of the causes that gavQ 
rise to such widespread and obstinate opposition. 
Valuable aid in addition may be obtained from other 
sources, especially from the estimates of various con- 
temporary writers as to the influences at work in the 
contest Of those whose opinions on this subject 
have been transmitted to us, we need mention only 
King, Gorham,^ Knox, and, most noteworthy of all, 
Nathaniel Barrell, an Antifederalist delegate from J 
Maine, whose conversion was accomplished in the 
Convention. Finally, from many local histories, and 
from the gossip contained in intimate personal letters 
of the time, bits may be gathered which often are of 
great help in throwing light upon special phases of 
the question. 

At the outset, we may eliminate from our analysis 

1 Abraham Holmes, of Rochester; see Debates^ pp. 212-3. 

« That the letter of Jan. 27, 1788, quoted by Madison to Wash- 
ington {Madison Papers^ II. 668-9) is from the pen of Gorham, 
may be inferred from the statement of Bancroft. (History oftht 
Constitution^ II. 258, note 2.) 

^ ^ 






Well-founded the opposition that arose from legitimate objections 
o jections. ^^ ^j^^ Constitution in the form in which it was sent 

forth by the Federal Convention. It is enough here 
to indicate the fact that such objections existed and 
were entertained even by the stanchest of Federalists. 
Taken apart from other considerations, however, they 
would seem to have been scarcely sufficient of them- 
selves to induce opposition to ratification on the part 
Distrust of of any sensible man. As for the rest, it seems, from 
Dowen^* ^ careful consideration of the above material, that the 

prime element in the opposition was the distrust with 
which men brought up in the democratic atmosphere 
of the New England town-meeting viewed all delegated 
power; and their inordinate desire to maintain a con- 
stant and efficient check upon all persons to whom it 
was found necessary to intrust a portion of their 
authority. For example, a not unfriendly writer, in 
speaking of the delegates sent to the Convention from 
Worcester County, said : " The most of them entertain 
such a dread of arbitrary power, that they are afraid 
even of limited authority. Why is it," he continues, 
"that modem politicians commonly commence with 
such sentiments — I think it a fact, perhaps, because 
I used to feel them, till late years have convinced me 
that the only way to avoid arbitrary power is to dele- 
gate proper authority to prevent it — but of upwards of 
50 members for this county not more than 7 or 8 dele- 
gates are of my present sentiments, & yet some of them 
are good men — Not all insurgents I asure you." ^ It 
was probably such persons as these that Knox had in 
mind when he spoke of the opposition as animated 
by "a deadly principle levelled at the existence of all 
government whatever."* 

1 E. Bangs to Thatcher, Worcester, Jan. i, 1788, Thatcher 
PaperSy No. 8. 

* Debates^ pp. 409-10; Drake, Life of Knox, p. 150. The 


A second element in the opposition seems to have Agricultural 
been the conflict of interest, partly real and partly fan- ^iai se(Sons" 
cied, between the agricultural and the commercial sec- 
tions of the State. Evidences of this antagonism, and 
of its influence, are to be seen most pronouncedly in 
the letter of "Cornelius," before cited; ^ additional 
traces of it may be seen in the attempt in the legis- 
lature to change the place of meeting of the Conven- 
tion from Boston to some other town; and again in 
various passages cited from the debates of that body 

Underlying and reinforcing these two elements was Aristocracy ^ 
another, in which, it may be said, lay the whole secret ^^y^ *°*^^ 
of the opposition. This was the pronounced antag- 
onism between the anstocfaitic arid" the democratic 
elements ofsociety in Massachusetts, which has been 
discussed in the Introduction to this paper. Massachu- 
setts was not alone in this experience; in most, if not 
all, of the States a similar contest had arisen since the 
war. The men who at Philadelphia had put their 
names to the new Constitution were, it seems quite 
safe to affirm, at that time identified with the aristo- 
cratic interest. Thus color was given to the charge of 
a Pennsylvania writer, that " the present conspiracy " 

charge that some of the delegates were animated by a desire for 
anarchy was common, but it was probably without real founda- 
tion. For example, Nathaniel Barrell, who had himself been op- 
posed to the Constitution in the Convention, though he voted yea, 
says, after enumerating various classes among the opposition : 
** Aside from all these are not a few of those Insurgents, who 
have neither property nor principle, consequently want no Gov- 
ernment but that Anarchy which may in its confusion give them 
a chance of sharing all property amongst them, — this lesson I 
have learnt by being in the minority, when I was oblig'd to mix 
w^*» a set of the most unprincipled of men." (To Thatcher, Feb. 20, 
1788, Thatcher Papers y No. 35.) 
1 See above, pp. 33-35. 





[/. e., the attempt to secure the adoption of the new 
Constitution] was "a continental exertion of the well- 
bom of America to obtain that darling domination, 
which they have not been able to accomplish in their 
respective States." ^ 
as seen in the There can be no question that this feeling underlay 

most of the opposition in the Massachusetts Conven- 
tion. Quotations in proof of this might be multiplied 
indefinitely, but a few will suffice. Of the support 
which the Constitution received, Benjamin Randall, 
delegate from Sharon, Suffolk County, said: "An 
old saying. Sir, is, that a good thing don't need prats- 
ing ; but. Sir, it takes the best men in the State to 
gloss this Constitution, which they say is the best that 
human wisdom can invent. In praise of it, we hear 
the reverend clerg y,^ the j udges of the supreme court, 
and the ablest lawyers, exerting their utmost abilities. 
Now, Sir, suppose all this artillery turned the other 
way, and these great men would speak half as much 
against it, we might complete our business, and go 
home in forty-eight hours. . . . Every one comes here 
to discharge his duty to his constituents, and I hope 
none will be biased by the best orators; because we 
are not acting for ourselves. " ' ^I^^se from the " well- 

* " Centinel " ; see McMaster and Stone, Pennsylvania and 
the. Federal Constitution, p. 627. 

* Out of 17 clergymen in the Convention, 14 voted for ratifi- 
cation. Seven of these were from Suffolk County. On the other 
hand, it is curious to note that out of 10 doctors in the Convention, 
all but two voted in the negative. The importance of the general 
support given the Constitution by the clergy was recognized by the 
Federalists at the time. " It is very fortunate for us," wrote Lin- 
coln to Washington, Feb. 9, 1788, "that the clergy are pretty gen- 
erally with us. They have in this State a very great influence 

^ over the people, and they will contribute much to the general peace 
and happiness." {Debates, p. 409.) 

* Ibid,, p. 138. 



bom " evidently excited suspicion rather than allayed 
it. ♦ The reason for this is made apparent in a speech 
by Amos Singletary,^ the old Worcester County coun- 
tryman before referred to. " These lawyers, and men Upper classes 
of learning, and moneyed men," said he, "that talk s"*P®^^^ 
so finely, and gloss over matters so smoothly, to make 
us, poor illiterate people, swallow down the pill, expect 
to get into Congress themselves ; they expect to be the 
managers of this Constitution, and get all the power 
and all the money into their own hands, and then they 
will swallow up all us little folks, like the great levia- 
than, Mr. President ; yes, just as the whale swallowed 
up Jonah. This is what I am afraid of. " * 

^ He was the first white male child born in his town (Sutton) ; 
the date of his birth is 1721. It is said that he *' never attended 
school a day in his life," but that by home teaching and patient 
application he became a "well informed man." He represented 
his town in the Provincial Congress during the Revolution, and 
then for four years in the House of Representatives. He also 
served several terms in the State Senate. See Benedict and Tracy, 
History of Sutton^ pp. 27, 727. 

* Debates^ p. 203. In reply to this, a noteworthy speech was 
-made by one Jonathan Smith, of Lanesborough. To show his 
•• brother plough-joggers" •* what were the effects of anarchy, that 
[they might] see the reasons why [he wished] for good govern- 
ment," he first, after some protest on the part of a few members, 
sketched in graphic manner the state of affairs in the western 
counties during the preceding year, while Shays's rebellion was 
at its height. " Now, Mr. President," he then continued, " when 
I saw this Constitution, I found that it was a cure for these 
disorders. It was just such a thing as we wanted. I got a 
copy of it and read it over and over. I had been a member of 
the Convention to form our own State Constitution, and had learnt 
something of the checks and balances of power, and I found them 
all here. I did not go to any lawyer, to ask his opinion ; we have 
no lawyer in our town, and we do well enough without. I formed 
my own opinion, and was pleased with this Constitution. My 
honorable old daddy there . . . won't think that I expect to be a 
Congressman, and swallow up the liberties of the people. I never 


That it was the fear of the aristocracy which gave 
rise to most of the opposition was clearly recognized 
at the time by the advocates of the Constitution. Five 
Testimony of days before the above avowal was made, Rufus King had 
Rufus King, bitten to Madison : " An apprehension that the liber- 
ties of the people are in danger, and a distrust of men 
of property or education have a more powerful effect 
^•^ upon the minds of our opponents than any specific ob- 
jections against the Constitution. If the opposition 
was grounded on any precise points, I am persuaded 
that it might be weakened, if not indirectly overcome. 
But every attempt to remove their fixed and violent 
jealousy, seems, hitherto, to operate as a confirmation 
of that baneful passion."^ A week later he wrote 
again, confirming his former diagnosis. The opposi- 
tion arose, he said, chiefly "from an opinion that is 
immovable, that some injury is plotted against them 
— that the system is the production of the rich and 
ambitious, that they discover its operations and that 
the consequence will be the establishment of two 

bad any post, nor do I want one, and before I am done you will 
think that I don't deserve one. But I don't think the worse of the 
Constitution because lawyers, and men of learning, and moneyed 
men, are fond of it. ... I think those gentlemen who are so very 
suspicious that as soon as a man gets into power he turns rogue, 
had better look at home. ... let us suppose a case now : Sup- 
pose you had a farm of fifty acres, and your title was disputed, 
and there was a farm of five thousand acres joined to you, that 
belonged to a man of learning, and his title was involved in the 
same difHculty ; would not you be glad to have him for your friend, 
rather than to stand alone in the dispute ? Well, the case is the 
same; these lawyers, these moneyed men, these men of learning, 
are all embarked in the same cause with us, and we must all swim 
or sink together," etc. {Debates^ pp. 203-5.) In Elliot's Debates^ 
and in the edition of the Debates of the Convention published in 
1808, Smith is erroneously recorded as voting against the ratifica- 
tion of the Constitution. 
1 Life of King, I. 314. 



orders in the Society, one comprehending the opulent 
and great, the other the poor and illiterate. The ex- 
traordinary Union in favor of the Constitution in this 
State of the Wealthy and sensible part of it," he con- 
tinued, " is in confirmation of these opinions and every 
exertion hitherto made to eradicate it, has been in 
vam. ^ 

Under the three foregoing heads are indicated what Paper money, 
seem to have been the chief elements in the opposition and ^^ *^' 
to ratification. Aside from these, however, various repudiation, 
special causes were assigned at the time by Federalists 
to account for the antipathy to the new Constitution, 
some of which undoubtedly did exert considerable in- 
fluence, and should be noticed here. The most impor- 
tant of these subsidiary causes was probably the desire ^ 
for paper money and tender laws, both of which were 
flatly prohibited by the new system. It was on this 
point, it will be rememberec^, that William Symmes 
had predicted that "the prihcipal weight of opposi- 
tion [would] hang."* With this, may be taken the 
desire for a partial repudiation of the State debt, scal- 
ing it down to five or six shillings in the pound, a con- 
sideration which, we are told, was the animating cause 
with some.^ It was this desire, doubtless, together 
with the three preceding reasons, that caused "all the 
late insurgents and their abettors" to take a stand 
against the Constitution. 

Another element of considerable weight was the de- Seoaration y 
sire to make Maine a separate State, and the fear that 
the adoption of the Constitution would render this step 
more difficult* The movement for a separation, which 

1 LifeofKing^ I. 317. 

* See above, page 43. 

* Thatcher Papers^ No. 30. 

* Gore, writing to King, Jan. 6, 1788, sajrs: "It is said the 
Eastern delegates will generally be opposed, because they think, 


had begun in 1785, was then at its height. Just before 
the Constitution had been submitted to the States, a 
convention in Maine, the last of a series, had issued a 
call to the people of that district to express their sen- 
timents on the subject of a separation. A large and 
active minority, if not a majority, of the population 
in that region, supported the movement.^ In Massa- 
chusetts proper, it was also not without its supporters : 
many persons in Worcester County, we are told, advo- 
cated separation, in the belief that Worcester's pros- 
pects of becoming the State capital would thus be 
increased.^ Although the matter was but once al- 
luded to in the debates, this question of the separa- 

that it will postpone their separation — woad it not be well for 
you & Thacher [sic] to write them on this subject?" (^(fe of 
King^ I. 312.) 

Nathaniel Gorham (?), writing to Madison, gives as another 
reason for the opposition of the Maine delegates that " many of 
them and their constituents are only squatters on other people's 
land, and they are afraid of being brought to account." See 
Madison to Washington, Feb. 3, 1788, Madison Papers^ II. 669. 
Possibly there was some truth in this assertion. On Oct. 21, 1786, 
an order had passed the General Court, reciting that " it is repre- 
sented to this Court, that divers persons . . . have illegally entered 
upon, and taken possession of some of the unappropriated lands 
belonging to this commonwealth in the eastern counties, and that 
others are settling in like manner thereon, presuming upon the in- 
dulgence of government, that they shall be quieted in their posses- 
sions ; " in view of which fact, the Governor was called upon to 
issue a proclamation warning off such persons. {Resolves respect- 
ing Eastern Lands, p. 59.) It may well have been that these per- 
sons feared that the adoption of the Federal Constitution would 
unfavorably affect their pretensions ; but our only evidence of such 
an influence is the letter to Madison cited above. 

^ In 1792, when the question of separation was officially sub- 
mitted to the people of that district, the votes were: for sepa- 
ration, 2074 ; against it, 2525. See Willis, History of Portland, 
pp. 709, 712. 
, ^ * Thatcher Papers, No. 30. 


tion of Maine undoubtedly exerted some influence in 
the Convention; for, according to a writer who lived in 
that section " the Persons that have been Sticklers for 
this Seperation Voted in opposition."^ y 

Finally, to the list of those who were induced by the Dcmagogism 
foregoing influences to oppose the Constitution, should an^'g^^rance. 
be added demagogues, — whose number, however, was 
small, — who sought to gain or to retain power, and 
who took this means "as the surest channel to obtain 
their ends;" and the ''honest ignorant minds," as 
one who had himself belonged to the opposition calls 
them, the dupes of those "who persuade them that 
their libertys are in danger, and they will be made 
Slaves of. "2 

1 David Sewall to Thatcher, March 4, 1788, Thatcher Papers^ 
No. 41 . This is said to have been the reason of William Widgery's 
opposition (Gore to King, Jan. 6, 1788, Life of King^ I. 312). Out 
of six delegates to the Maine Convention of September, 1786, who 
were in the Massachusetts Convention of 1788, two (William 
Thompson of Scarborough and Dummer Sewall of Bath) voted 
for ratification. For this subject, see Williamson, History of 
Maine^ II. 521-33. 

» Qarrell to Thatcher, Feb. 20, 1788, Thatcher Papers^ No. 35. ^ 
Various Federalist writers of the time assert that the opposition 
arose largely from men who had been Tories in the late war, and 
thought thereby either to hasten reunion with Great Britain, or to 
vent their spite on their fellow-countrymen. Although these as- 
sertions may at times have been made in good faith, there seems 
to have been no ground for them. On the other hand, it is certain 
that many men who were regarded as Tories during the war were 
now enthusiastically in favor of the new Constitution. 



Gloomy out- At the time when the Convention assembled, the 
Constitution, outlook for the Constitution had been gloomy. The 

episode by which Gerry was induced to absent himself 
from its sessions after he had been formally invited to 
attend, did not tend to improve matters. The leaders 
of the opposition thenceforth, Belknap said, " will not 
be convinced, they will not be silenced." ^ Aside from 
these, however, he wrote that there were " a number of 
honest, silent men, who wish for information. "^ 

To reach the latter, the federalist leaders bent all 
their energies; patiently answering every objection 
raised in the Convention, while outside of it they 
J exerted themselves, in private conversation and by all 
legitimate means within their power, to influence dele- 
gates individually. Progress, however, was slow. A 
section of the opposition, led by old General Thomp- 

Movemcntfor SOU, clamored for an adjournment, "to see what our 
adjournment g- ^^^ g^^^^g ^jjj ^^ » ^^a^. should they suffer, they 

inquired, if they adjourned the consideration for five 
or six months .^^ The proposition, however, met with 
but little favor. 

The leaders of the opposition then tried to hurry on 
the business of the Convention. When the delegates 

* To Hazard, Jan. 25, 1788, Massachusetts Historical Society, 
Collections^ Fifth Series, III. 9. 

^ To Hazard, Jan. 20, 1788, Ibid,^ pp. 6, 7. 

• Debates^ pp. 161, 180. 


met for the afternoon session of January 23, though Attempt 
the Convention was then occupied with the section decision- 
defining the powers of Congress, Nasson at once moved 
to reconsider the former vote to discuss the Constitu- 
tion by paragraphs, and to proceed to the general dis- 
cussion of the subject, preliminary to a vote upon the 
final question of ratification. Widgery supported the 
motion, on the ground that the necessities of the mem- 
bers from remote districts compelled them to hurry the 
matter. The Federalists warmly opposed it; and were 
successful, first in defeating a proposition to defer the 
motion to reconsider until ten o'clock the next day, 
and then in defeating a motion to adjourn until that 
time. The motion to reconsider was then withdrawn, 
by leave of the Convention. The next morning it was opposed 
renewed. Immediately Samuel Adams, who hitherto A^damT"and 
had spoken hardly once in the Convention, arose to defeated, 
oppose it. They ought not, he said, to be " stingy of 
[their] time, or the public money, when so important 
an object demanded them. . . . He was sorry ... for 
gentlemen's necessities; but he had rather support the 
gentlemen who were thus necessitated, or lend them 
money to do it, than that they should hurry so great a 
subject. " The matter was then debated for some time. 
Finally, on a general call for the question, the motion 
was put, and was voted down " without a return of the 
house." A buzz of congratulation thereupon went the 
round of the gallery, which the excited imagination of 
the Antifederalist leaders converted into a hiss; and 
some little time was required to pacify them.^ 

By this time, the Federalists had definitely come to Recommen- 
despair of securing a simple and unqualified ratifica- amendments 
tion. They began, accordingly, to cast about for ex- projected, 
pedients by which their main end might be secured 
with as little sacrifice of their cause as possible. The 

1 Debatesy pp. 72-5, 195-7. 


one which they hit upon was that of introducing such 
amendments as they were willing to concede, which, 
while not to be made a condition of ratification, as 
desired by their opponents, should accompany the 
acceptance of the new system as a recommendation 
to the future Congress. This device, it was rightly 
hoped, would effect conversions among the "honest 
doubters," while it would neither countenance the 
serious alteration of the system, nor absolutely com- 
mit the new government even to such amendments as 
the Convention should suggest. 
Origin of the The first mention of such a scheme with which the 
sc cmc. author is acquainted, is to be found in the letter of " a 

Republican Federalist *' in the Massachusetts Centinel 
of January 12, 1788. In this, th6 members of the Con- 
vention are warned that they "will in all probability be 
warmly urged to accept the system, and at the same time 
to propose amendments. " Seven days later, John Avery, 
Jr., the Secretary of the Commonwealth, makes mention 
of such a project "I am seriously of Opinion," he 
wrote to George Thatcher, on January 19, "that if the 
most sanguine among them \sic\ who are for adopting 
the proposed Constitution as it now stands would dis- 
cover a conciliatory disposition and give way a little to 
those who are for Adopting it with Amendments I dare 
say they would be very united. . . . my wishes are that 
they may adopt it and propose Amendments which when 
agreed upon, to transmit {sic^ to the several States for 
their Concurrence." ^ The exact authorship, however, 
of this scheme — a scheme so simple, and yet so impor- 
tant in its results — will probably always be in doubt. ^ 

* Thatcher Papers^ No. 16. 

^ Four days after the above date, and on the same day that Nas- 
,son*s proposition was made in the Convention, King mentions that 
such a scheme was in contemplation {Life of King, I. 316). 
Eight days later the proposition was made. «i. 


To give the proposal its full effect, it was necessary Hancock's 
that it should seem to emanate from some one who, if ^^^^^^^ *° **• 
not an opponent of the Constitution, had at least 
taken no steps toward securing its adoption; from 
some one, too, in whom the popular party had full con- 
fidence. Such a person the Federalists found in Gov- 
ernor Hancock, the titular president of the Convention. 
In no one had the mass of the people, whether rightly 
or wrongly, more confidence. His attitude toward the 
Constitution was yet in doubt : the ambiguous language 
in which he had referred the matter to the legislature 
has already been noticed.^ Up to January 30 his Hisambigu- 
gout, a convenient disease which, as John Adams had ^"' ^0""^. 
remarked some years before, always seized upon him 
when there was anything unpleasant or unpopular to 
do, had prevented him from taking his seat in the 
Convention. Ten days before, King had ironically 
written : " Hancock is still confined, or rather he has 
not yet taken his Seat ; as soon as the majority is ex- 
hibited on either Side I think his Health will suffice 
him to be abroad."* Now inducements were offered 
him to declare himself in favor of ratification, and 
to introduce the amendments which the Federalist 
leaders had agreed upon. The price to be paid him price paid for 
for this service was the support of Bowdoin's friends *»» '^^PP*''^- 

1 See above, page 45. Bancroft, in his History of the Constitu- 
tion (II. 258, note 2), asserts that there is '* no ground whatever " 
for saying that Hancock was at any time opposed to the Constitu- 
tion. Strictly, this is probably true ; but at the same time it is 
equally true that, up to the moment of the agreement here referred 
to, he had not in any way declared for the Constitution. The 
assertion of James Sullivan (?), in the Biographical Sketch of 
Governor Hancock (1793), that ^^ before the Convention was as- 
sembled, he prepared his proposals for amendments, and resolved 
to give the Constitution his decided support," seems to be a de- 
liberate attempt to falsify the facts. 
* * Thatcher Papers^ No. 17. 


in the next gubernatorial election; at the same time 
the alluring prospect of the vice-presidency, if not of 
the presidency, of the proposed government was held 
out to him, though probably no specific promises were 
made on this head.^ 
Evidence of a That some such bargain was made, and that these 
bargain. were in substance its terms, there is not now the 

slightest reason to doubt On January 30, King 
wrote to Madison: "If Mr. Hancock does not disap- 
point our present expectations, our wishes will be 
gratified ; but his character is not entirely free from a 
portion of caprice. " ' Two days later he wrote more 
frankly to Knox, but still in guarded language, which 
implied more in its significant underscorings than was 
expressed in the words themselves. Hancock, he wrote, 
had committed himself in favor of the Federalists, 
The final question was to be put in the Convention in 
King's a few days. " You will be astonished, when you see 

testimony. ^j^^ jj^^ ^j names," he concludes, "that such an union 

of men has taken place on this question. Hancock 
will hereafter receive the universal support of Bow- 
doin's friends;^ and we told him, that, if Virginia does 
not unitey which is problematical, he is considered as t/ie 
only fair candidate for President. " * 

Additional evidence exists to the same effect, which, 
though not so unexceptionable, is more explicit. In 

1 It is only fair to state, however, that it was reported at Boston, 
before the Convention assembled, that Hancock was already talked 
of for the vice-presidency by southern politicians. See Massa- 
chusetts Ceniinely Jan. 9, 1788. 

^ Life of King, \,2M-^. 

* That this is something more than a mere individual prediction 
is shown by the remarkable unanimity which prevailed at Boston 
in the election of 1788. Out of 1437 votes cast for governor, 
Hancock got all but 10, five votes only going to Bowdoin. See 
Independent Chronicle, April 10, 1788. 

* Life of King, I. 319. The italics are in the printed copy. 


an Antifederalist squib published in the Chronicle "Laco's" 

9.0^0 lint 

of March 20, it is insinuated that ''the man of the 
people'* was gained by "holding out to him the 
office of vice-president" In No. VII of Stephen 
Higginson's Letters of Loco, the object of which was 
to defeat Hancock's re-election in 1789, what pur- 
ports to be the whole story of the bargain is given. 
Early in the session, it is stated, Hancock " intimated 
to the advocates for the adoption, that he would appear 
in its favour, if they would make it worth his while. 
This intimation was given through a common friend 
who assured the friends of the Constitution, that noth- 
ing more would be required . . . than a promise to 
support him [Hancock] in the chair at the next election. 
This promise, though a bitter pill, was agreed to be 
given. " That the account given by " Laco " is substan- Substantiated 
tially correct, is rendered probable ^ by a letter from ^^ ^^^^' 
Gore to King of March 27, 1 789. " I am perfectly in 
opinion with you," writes the former, referring to the 
above-mentioned letters, "that the disclosure of any- 
thing relative to Mr. H.'s conduct during the conven- 
tion is unjust, ungenerous, & highly impolitick;" no 
exception, however, is taken to the disclosure on the 
ground that the charges made were not true.^ 

On January 31, the day after Hancock had taken his "Condiiatoijr 
seat in the Convention, the matter was brought to a P"^®?^'' ^^ 
head. First, General Heath made a speech designed 

^ Letter No. VII was omitted from the Centinel at the time, 
but was published in the pamphlet edition of the letters which was 
issued almost immediately. The whole tenor of Gore*s letter 
implies that he knew the contents of the suppressed letter, though 
he could only guess as to the author. 

* Life of King, I. 360. The misprint, in this letter, of " Saco" 
for ** Laco " is merely another of the many proofs afforded by this 
volume that descent from a statesman is not alone sufficient quali- 
fication for the task of editing his writings. 


to pave the way for the proposition. Then Hancock 
arose and read the amendments that had been handed 
to him by the Federalist leaders. Parsons, King, and 
Sedgwick, prefacing the reading thereof with a little 
speech, in which, while he did not expressly claim their 
authorship, he produced the impression that they were 
his own work.^ As slightly amended by a committee 
itsprorisioiis. to which Ihey were referred,* these provided: (i) that 
powers not expressly delegated were reserved ; (2) that 
the full representation allowed by the Constitution 
should be permitted until the total number of represent- 
atives reached two hundred ; (3) that Congress should 
exercise the power to r^ulate elections only when a 
State neglected or refused to make adequate provi- 
sion therefor, or made r^ulations subversive of the 
rights of the people to a free and equal representa- 
tion ; (4) that direct taxes should be laid only when 
the revenue from imposts and excises was insufficient ; 
(5) that no company with exclusive advantages of com- 
merce should be erected; (6) that indictment by a 
grand jury must precede trial for crime, except in the 
land and naval forces ; (7) that in suits between citi- 
zens of different States the jurisdiction of the Federal 
Courts should be limited to cases of a certain value; 
(8) that in all civil actions between citizens of different 

^ The original copy of the amendments was found among Han- 
cock's papers, after his death, in the handwriting of Theophflns 
Parsons. {Memoir of Parsons^ pp. 70, 85.) 

' This committee consisted of two members from each of the 
larger counties, and one from each of two smaller ones. It was 
agreed that the delegates from each county should nominate their 
representatives, one from each of the two parties. From the small 
county of Dukes, however, only Federalist delegates had been 
elected to the Convention ; consequently, the Federalists secured 
a majority on the committee, and the alterations made in the 
amendments proposed were in the main merely verbal See Lincoln 
to Washington, Feb. 3, 1788, Debates^ p. 404. 


States issues of fact should be tried by a jury, at the 
request of either party; and (9) that the prohibition 
against the acceptance of titles and offices from foreign 
princes by United States officials be made absolute.^ 

The foregoing " conciliatory proposition " was the ita reception, 
beginning of the end. Samuel Adams, whose course 
in the Convention had hitherto been rather that of a 
neutral, now advocated at some length the adoption of 
the Constitution with the recommendatory amendments 
proposed by the Governor.* The Federalist leaders 
accepted the proposition, not, as they said, because 
they were convinced of the necessity of the amend- 
ments, but because such alterations would tend to 
remove doubts and objections from the minds of many 
persons. The leading Antifederalists, on the other 
hand, looked upon the proposition as a snare. They -^ 
liked the amendments, but saw no probability that 
they would be made a part of the Constitution.^ Some 
even affected to question the power of the Convention 
in the matter : they must, said Dr. Taylor, either take 
or reject the whole of the Constitution; in proposing 
amendments, he thought that they were " treading on 
unsafe ground."* 

With the rank and file of the opposition, however, lu inflaence 
the " conciliatory proposition " had from the beginning ][^f We? "^ 
considerable influence. With some it was enough to 

1 Both the original and amended propositions are in the Journal 
of the Convention {Debates^ pp. 80, 84, respectively). 

* Ibid,, pp. 225-7. As Bancroft points out {History of the 
Constitution, II. 270, note), Adams's use of the term "conditional 
amendments" is of no significance here; it does not imply, as 
asserted by Curtis {Constitutional History, I. 654), an intentional, 
or even unintentional, misunderstanding of the force of the pro- 
posed amendments. 

■ So Pierce, Widgeiy, Lusk, and others {Debates, pp. 242, 240, 
250, respectively.) 

* Ibid,, p. 227. So, too, argued Widgcry and others. 


turn the scale, and convert them from (qiponents to 
; of advocates of the Constitution. The opinicms ol Charles 
1^ Turner, of Scituate, Plymouth County, have several 

coaw^i^an. times already been cited in this paper, and always 

in oiqx)sition to the proposed Constitution. Just be> 
fore the final vote was taken, he arose, and in a 
speech of much ability announced his conversion. 
''The proposed amendments," said he, ''are of such a 
liberal, such a generous, such a catholic nature and 
complexion, they are so congenial to the soul of every 
man who is possessed of a patriotic r^;ard to the 
preservation of the just rights and immunities of his 
country, as well as to the institution of a good and 
necessary government, that I think they must, they 
will be universally accepted When, in connection 
with this confidence, I consider the deplorable state of 
our navigation and commerce, and various branches of 
business thereon dependent, the inglorious and pro- 
voking figure we make in the eyes of our European 
creditors, the deg^ree in which the landed interest is 
burdened and depreciated, the tendency of depreciating 
paper and tender acts to destroy mutual confidence, 
faith and credit, to prevent the circulation of specie, 
and to overspread the land with an inundation, a chaos 
of multiform injustice, oppression and knavery; when 
I consider that want of efficiency there is in our gov- 
ernment, as to obliging people seasonably to pay their 
dues to the public, instead of spending their money in 
support of luxury and extravagance, of consequence the 
inability of government to satisfy the just demands of 
its creditors, and to do it in season, so as to prevent 
their suffering amazingly by depreciation ; in connec- 
tion with my anxious desires that my ears may be no 
longer perstringed, nor my heart pained with the cries 
of the injured, suffering widow and orphan; when I 
also consider that state of our finances which daily ex- 


poses US to become a prey to the despotic humor even 
of an impotent invader, I find my myself [sic] con- 
strained to say, before this Assembly, and before God, 
that I think it my duty to give my vote in favor of this 
Constitution, with the proposed amendments." ^ 

Scarcely had the Antifederalists recovered from 
the shock occasioned by the foregoing declaration, 
when another of their following arose to declare his 
defection. William Symmes, the young lawyer from Symmcs, of 
Andover, has already been mentioned as an opponent ^"^draws his 
of the Constitution, and his views as expressed prior opposition, 
to the meeting of the Convention have been given.* 
In the Convention he had, on January 22, made a 
temperate though rather rhetorical speech detailing 
his own and his oonstituents' objections. Now, in the 
course of a speech of considerable length, he said: 
" Upon the whole, Mr. President, approving the amend- 
ments, and firmly believing that they will be adopted, 
I recall my former opposition, such as it was, to this 
Constitution, and shall, especially as the amendments 
are to be a standing instruction to our delegates until 
they are obtained, give it my unreserved assent. In 
so doing, I stand acquitted to my own conscience, I 
hope and trust I shall to my constituents, and (laying 
his hand on his breast) I know I shall before my 
God. "8 

One more convert demands notice here, largely be- Nathaniel 
cause he is the type of a number of delegates whose yoA."* ^^ 
change of views was declared only by their votes. This 
was Nathaniel Barrell, bf York, Maine. His career is 
an interesting one.* He was bom in Boston in 1732, 

1 DebateSy pp. 274-5. 

* See above, pages 42-4. 

• Ibid.y p. 278. The two other delegates of Andover voted in 
the negative. 

^ For particulars concerning him the author is indebted to Mr. £. 


and educated for a mercantile life ; but, for some reason, 
in 1 755 he had entered the army instead, as a recruit- 
ing officer, under Governor Shirley. For gallantry 
displayed during the Quebec expedition, he had, in 
1759, been commissioned captain. In 1760 he had 
been in England, and had been presented to George 
II., an event which made a deep impression upon his 
mind, and which undoubtedly influenced his course in 
the Revolution. Settling in New Hampshire, he had 
there become a member of Governor Wentworth*s 
Council. Upon the outbreak of the struggle with the 
mother country, he had quitted that colony and his 
mercantile life, and had retired to his farm at York, 
Maine, where he was residing at the time when the 
Constitution was submitted. He had been "branded '* 
as a Tory in the Revolution, though, as he said, his 
"soul rejected the charge." ^ At the time of his elec- 
Attitude tion to the Convention, he was "a flaming Antifederal- 

CoMtitution it^/'* ^^d he is reported to have said that he "would 

sooner lose his Arm than put his Assent to the new 
proposed Constitution. " * 

His objections he had stated at some length in a 
letter to George Thatcher,* who, though detained at 

P. Burnham, of Saco, Maine, and to Mr. Charles Colborn Barrel!, 
of York Corner, Maine, a grandson of the subject of this sketch. 
Nathaniel Barrell was a descendant of Abraham Barrel!, one of 
the judges who tried Charles I., and who dissented from the sen- 
tence of execution. 

1 Barrell to Thatcher, Feb. 20, 1788, Thatcher Papers^ No. 35. 

« Sewall to Thatcher, Feb. 11, 1788, Ibid,, No. 30. 

• Savage to Thatcher, Jan. 11, 1788, Ibid,^ No. 14. 

♦ This letter is worth quoting. "It is much easier," he says, 
"to tell the objectors to turn their representative out [if he 
prove a rogue], than to do it — I cant but think you know how difi- 
cult it is to turn out a representatives who behaves ill, even tho 
chosen but for one year — think you not 'twould be more dificult 
to remove one chosen for two years ? . . . after all the Willsonian 


New York by his duties in Congress, was exerting Thatcher's 
himself as a Maine Federalist to effect the conversion Barreli!*^'* 
of his Antifederalist friends. That he contributed to 
this end in Barrell's case is stated in a letter which he 
received from a Federalist townsman of Barrell. "Your 
Letter," says this correspondent, "and other matters 
made a Proselite of Mr. B." ^ In the Convention, Bar- 
rell, having " no pretensions to talents above the simple 
language adapted to . . . the plain husbandman," sat 
a silent listener until a few days after the introduction 
of Hancock's "conciliatory proposition." Convinced 
that the amendments contained therein would eventu- 
ally be made a part of the Constitution,' his conver- 

oratory — after all the learned arguments I have seen written — 
after all the labored speeches I have heard in the defence — and 
after the best investigation I have been able to give it — I see it 
pregnant with the fate of our libertys and if I should not live to 
feel its baneful effects, I see it entails wretchedness on my posterity 
— Slavery on my children — for as it now stands congress will be 
vested with much more extensive power than ever Great Brittain 
exercised over us." After commenting upon the six-year term for 
senators, he then takes up the matter of the expense of the new 
government. He does not think that they will be ** able to sup- 
port the additional charge of such a Government and . . . when 
our State Government is annihilated this will not suit our local 
concerns so well as what we now have ... I think," he contin- 
ues, '* *twill not be so much for our advantage to have our taxes 
imposed & levied at the pleasure of Congress as the method now 
pursued — and ... I think a Continental Collector at the head of 
a Standing army will not be so likely to do us justice in collecting 
the taxes, as the mode of colecting now practicd — and to crown 
all Sir, ... I think such a Government impracticable among men 
with such high notions of liberty as we americans." {Thatcher 
Papers, No. 15.) 

1 David Sewall, Feb. 11, 1788, Ibid., No. 30. 

^ He seems later to have felt some doubt on this point After 
his return from the Convention, he says, in a letter addressed to 
Thatcher : " All these worthys [f. e,, those Antifederalist leaders 
to whom he has just referred as ** the most unprincipled of men,"] 



his con- 

Motion to 



sion was now completed. In the only speech which 
he made in the Convention, he enumerated what had 
been his and his constituents' objections.^ Some of 
these, he said, had been removed " by the ingenious 
reasoning of the speakers ; " others would be obviated 
by the proposed amendments. This Constitution, with 
all its imperfections, he had come to believe was excel- 
lent as compared with the Articles of Confederation ; 
and he was now convinced that it was the best then ob- 
tainable. " I could wish," he said, " for an adjournment, 
that I might have an opportunity to lay it before my 
constituents with the arguments which have been used 
in the debates, which have eased my mind, and I trust 
would have the effect on theirs, so as heartily to join 
me in ratifying the same. But, Sir, if I cannot be 
indulged on this desirable object, I am almost tempted 
to risk their displeasure and adopt it without their 
consent. "2 

As has already been stated, propositions to adjourn 
had several times been made in the Convention. 
Seeing the many converts made by the proposition 
for amendments,* the leaders of the opposition, on 

are united in sparing no pains to influence the minds of all, and 
persuade me to believe what they themselves do not — that the 
proposed amendments will not take place & should this be as they 
wish — I dread the consequence perhaps little short of a revolution 
may take place — as such deceptions will not be easily swallowed — 
I feel for myself — there is a Something which whispers within 
that ... I should be one of the first that would sound the alarm, 
and call to Arms." {Thatcher Papers^ No. 35.) 

* In the main, the objections which he recites are the same 
which he had enumerated to Thatcher in his letter of Jan. 15, 1788. 
See above, page 92, note 4. 

* Debates, pp. 262-5. 

* Belknap's minutes: Massachusetts Historical Society, Pro- 
ceedings, 1858, p. 302. According to Widgery, the proposed amend- 
ments ** furnished many with Excuses to their Constituants.'' 
{Thatcher Papers^ No. 29.) 


February 5, seized upon the occasion presented by the 
foregoing speech to move again for an adjournment, 
"for the purpose of informing the good people of this 
Commonwealth of the principles of the proposed Fed- 
eral Constitution, and the amendments offered by his 
Excellency the President, . . . and of uniting their 
opinions respecting the same," For "the best part of 
the day," we are informed, the motion was debated. 
Unfortunately, no record exists of the speeches made 
on the subject, nor of the persons who advocated the 
measure. It is safe to assume, however, that in ad- 
dition to those who favored the measure from motives 
similar to those of Barrell, there were many who voted 
for it merely for the delay which an adjournment would 
give, and for the resulting advantage to the Antifeder 
alist cause; on the other hand, among those who op- The motion 
posed the motion were doubtless some who afterwards ^^®*^^* 
voted against ratification. Finally, the proposition 
was rejected, out of three hundred and twenty-nine 
members present only one hundred and fifteen voting 
in the affirmative.^ 

The next day had been set for taking the vote on 
the final question of ratification. The prospects for 
adoption were bright, and the hopes of the Federalists 
ran high. Just before the question was put, however, 
Samuel Adams arose to propose additional amend- 
ments. At once the whole question was again thrown 
into doubt. 

When Adams had first seen the Constitution, he had 
conceived a dislike for it. "I stumble at the thresh- Adams's 
old," he had written to Richard Henry Lee, Dec. 3, ^wS^ Ae 
1787; "I meet with a national government, instead of Constitution, 
a federal union of sovereign states. " * At a dinner- 

* Debates^ pp. 265-6. 

« Memoir of R. H. Lee, II. 13a After the contest was over 



of Boston 

party given to the Boston delegates by Ex-Governor 
Bowdoin a few days before the Convention met, he is 
reported by Gore to have been " open & decided " 
against the Constitution, supporting his objections "by 
such arguments & such only as appear in the pieces 
of Brutus & federal farmer."^ To influence him 
and Hancock, together with Dr. Jarvis and one other 
of the Boston delegates who were understood to be 
wavering, the Federalists had stirred up the Boston 

and the new government had been inaugurated, he wrote again to 
Lee, Aug. 24, 1789: "I have always been apprehensive that . . . 
misconstructions would be given to the Federal Constitution, which 
would disappoint the views and expectations of the honest among 
those who acceded to it, and hazard the liberty, independence, and 
happiness of the people. I was particularly afraid that, unless 
great care should be taken to prevent it, the Constitution, in the 
administration of it, would gradually, but swiftly and imperceptibly, 
run into a consolidated government, pervading and legislating 
through all the States; not for Federal purposes only, as it pro- 
fesses, but in all cases whatsoever. Such a government would 
soon totally annihilate the sovereignty of the several States, so 
necessary to the support of the confederated commonwealth, and 
sink both in despotism. ... I earnestly wish some amendments 
may be judiciously and deliberately made." (Wells, Life of Samuel 
Adams, III. 273.) 

* Gore to King, Life of King, I. 31 1-2. The substance of his 
remarks, according to Gore, was : " That such a Govt, coud not 
pervade the United States — that internal taxes ought not to be 
given to the Union — that the representation was inadequate — 
that a Govt, might be formd from this — but this woud never 
answer and ought not to be adopted, but on Condition of such 
amendments as woud totally destroy it." Unless Adams should 
be disaffected by some such measure as the proposed resolves of 
the Boston tradesmen, predicts Gore, he " will be indefatigable & 
constant in all ways & means " to defeat the Constitution. Adamses 
own account of his course was to the effect that he had had " dif- 
ficulties and doubts respecting some parts of the proposed Consti- 
tution," but that in the convention *< he had chosen rather to be 
an auditor, than an objector, and he had particular reasons there- 
for." {Debates, p. 196.) 


mechanics, or "tradesmen," as they were then called, 
to hold a meeting two days before the Convention 
assembled. At this meeting, resolutions were unani- 
mously adopted by the four hundred persons present, 
declaring that " it was our design, and the opinion of 
this body, the design of every good man in town, to 
elect such men, and such only, as would exert their 
utmost ability to promote the adoption of the proposed 
frame of government in all its parts, without any con- 
ditions, pretended amendments, or alterations what- 
ever; " and the delegates of the town were warned that 
those who opposed the Constitution would, in so doing, 
act contrary to the "warmest wishes" of the trades- 
men of Boston.^ The effect of these resolutions had 
been eminently salutary.* Influenced by them, — and Their in- 
partly, perhaps, by the death, during the Convention, ^S.''" 
of his son, a rising physician of Boston, — Adams had 
not once spoken against a single feature of the pro- 
posed system of government On the contrary, he had 
rendered valuable service to the Federalist cause by his 
remarks against the attempt to hurry on the decision, 
and by his speech moving the adoption of the amend- 
ments introduced by Hancock. 

At the last moment, however, — either, as some of 
the Federalists thought, because he wished to block 
the ratification that now seemed imminent; or, as 
Jeremy Belknap believed with more show of reason, 

* Massachusetts Centiml^ Jan. 9, 1788; Worcester Magazine^ 
IV. 197. 

« See Thatcher Papers, No. 12. In the letters of " Laco " it is 
asserted that these resolves <* efiEectually checked Mr. H. and his 
followers in their opposition to the Constitution ; and eventually 
occasioned four votes [Hancock's, Adams's, Jarvis's, and one 
other] in its favour, which otherwise would have been most cer- 
tainly against it" {Letters of Laco, reprinted as Ten Chapters in 
the Ufe of John Hancock, p. 44.) 





Their efiEect 
and fate. 


because he desired to increase "his own popularity, 
as Hancock had his,"^ — he proposed the following 
clause as an addition to the first of the amendments 
introduced by the Governor : " And that the said Con- 
stitution be never construed to authorize Congress to 
infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of 
conscience; or to prevent the people of the United 
States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their 
own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless when 
necessary for the defence of the United States, or of 
some one or more of them ; or to prevent the people 
from petitioning, in a peaceable and orderly manner, 
the federal legislature, for a redress of grievances ; or 
to subject the people to unreasonable searches and 
seizures of their persons, papers or possessions."* 

The substance of the proposition was perfectly in- 
nocuous, and could not have been objected to by any 
fair-minded Federalist; Adams's sole motive in offer- 
ing it, moreover, may very well have been the laudable 
desire to secure rights that he conceived were endan- 
gered. The effect of its introduction, however, was at 
once to throw the whole Convention into turmoil and 
confusion. Both parties were filled with alarm. The 
Antifederalists supposed that "the old patriot" would 
never have offered such amendments unless there had 
been real danger; the Federalists feared the loss of 
their new converts. On perceiving the mischief that he 
had done, Adams withdrew his amendments. Another 
member, however, at once renewed them, and the only 
recourse left to the veteran leader was to help defeat 
his own measure.* 

^ Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections^ Fifth Series, 

III. 17. 

* Journal of the Convention, Debates, p. 86; Wells, Life of 
Samuel Adams^ III. 267. 

* Belknap's minutes: Massachusetts Historical Society, Pro- 
ciedings^ 1858, p. 303. 


The motion to ratify was then put, and was carried by Vote on 
the close vote of one hundred and eighty-seven to one '*^' «^on. 
hundred and sixty-eight. The majority in favor of rati- 
fication, it will be seen, was only nineteen. The nine 
delegates whose names were returned to the Conven- 
tion, but who were not present when the vote was 
taken, might almost have turned the scale in the other 
direction. Bearing in mind that it was mainly the 
Antifederalist towns that were unrepresented, it may 
safely be asserted that out of the forty-six delinquent 
corporations there were enough which were Antifed- 
eralist to have procured the rejection of the Constitu 
tion. This calculation, however, is based on the as 
sumption that a corresponding increase did not take 
place in the Federalist representation. Had all towns 
entitled to send representatives done so, and had all 
the delegates been present to cast their votes, it is prob- 
able that the final result would not have been changed, 
though the Federalist majority would have been cut 
down to scarcely more than a bare half-dozen.^ 

The geographical distribution of this vote is inter- Oeo^phical 
esting. From the four coast counties, Suffolk, Essex, d«^*5"t»on- 
Plymouth, and Barnstable, heavy majorities in favor 
of the Constitution were cast in each instance, the 
total vote from the four being one hundred yeas to 
nineteen nays. Of the five counties, Middlesex, Bris- 
tol, Worcester, Hampshire, and Berkshire, the reverse 
is true : from these counties strong majorities against 

1 Under date of Feb. 13, 1788, John Avery, Jr., wrote to 
Thatcher that he was " pleased upon Reflection " that the adoption 
was by so slender a majority, because (i) it would prevent much 
groundless jealousy " in the Minds of our Southern Brethren : " if 
Massachusetts had been more united it might have been said that 
her citizens expected greater advantages from the "carrying trade,** 
etc. ; and (2) because the slendemess of the majority would con- 
vince Congress of the necessity of agreeing to the proposed amend- 
ments. (jrhaUher Papers^ 1^0. II.) 


the Constitution were cast, the total being sixty yeas 
to one hundred and twenty-eight nays. The vote 
* from the three Maine counties, York, Cumberland, 
and Lincoln, was more evenly balanced, the yeas num- 
bering twenty-five, the nays twenty-one. The out- 
lying county of Dukes cast its two votes in favor of 
the Constitution; so, too, the Cape Cod district (Barn- 
stable County), so far as it was represented, went 
solidly for the Constitution, with the exception of the 
one town of Sandwich. The stanchest Antifederalist 
district was Worcester County, whose soil was touched 
neither by navigable river nor by arm of the sea ; from 
it came forty-three votes against ratification, as opposed 
to a paltry severi in favor of it. On the Federalist 
side, Suffolk and Essex Counties contended for chief 
place. ^ 
Charges of It would scarcely be necessary to consider the ques- 

\^^^?^^ tion whether or not improper influences were used in 

securing the above result, were it not for two circum- 
stances. The first of these is the publication by a 
Boston paper, during the session of the Convention, of 
a direct charge that an attempt was being made to bribe 
Antifederalist members of that body. The text of this 
charge is as follows : — 

^ The vote by counties and towns may be found in the editions 
of the Debates of 1788 and 1808, and in Elliot, Debates, II. The 
lists vary, however, in several particulars, owing to the presence of 
errors in each. The most authentic list is that contained in the 
oflScial Journal of the Convention {Debates, edition of 1856, pp. 
87-92), but this gives neither the town nor the county of the dele- 
gate ; these, however, may be supplied from the list of delegates 
published on pp. 31-43 of this edition. For a map illustrating the 
geographical distribution of the vote in the Convention, see Bulle- 
tin of the University of Wisconsin, Economics, Political Science, 
and History Series, Vol. I. No. i. This monograph, the work of 
Dr. Orin Grant Libby, takes up the geographical distribution of the 
vote on the Constitution in all the States. 



'' The most diabolical plan is on foot to corrupt the Members 
of the Convention who oppose the adoption of the New Consti- 
tution. — Large sums of money have been brought from a neigh- 
bouring State for that purpose, contributed by the wealthy ; if 
so, is it not probable there may be collections for the same 

accursed purpose nearer home? 

Centinel." ^ 

The second circumstance alluded to above is the 
sober assertion of a reputable historical writer within 
the last thirty years, Henry B. Dawson, editor of the 
old Historical Magazine^ that " it is very well known 
— indeed, the son and biographer of one of the great 
leaders of the Constitutionalists in New York has 
frankly admitted to us — that enough members of the 
Massachusetts Convention were bought with money from 
New York to secure the ratification of the new system by 
Masscuhusetts^ ^ 

In the face of this repeated charge, the matter cannot Theirbueless 
be passed over in silence. A careful consideration, ^^'^"**^^®'- 
however, of such evidence as now exists on this head, 
must lead one to the conclusion that both of these 
charges are without foundation. It is true that there 
was political knavery enough and to spare among 
men of the Revolutionary and Constitutional periods. 
There was selfish demagogy in abundance, shame- 
ful office-seeking, gross personal abuse in the press, 
jockeying of the election laws, intimidation and ballot- 
box stuffing. In many particulars, the adroit poli- 
tician of to-day has merely improved upon processes 
already familiar to popular leaders of a century ago. 
But, to all appearances, actual bribery of the repre- 

^ Boston Gazette and Country Journal^ Jan. 21, 1788 ; Debates^ 
pp. 64, 1 50. 

' Historical Magaziney November, 1869, P* 2^> TsMt^, 



charge con- 

** Bribery and 
Corruption " 
article in- 

sentatives of the people with money was not a sin which 
lay at the door of our fathers. That is a practice for 
the introduction of which in America we of later gen- 
erations may claim all the dubious credit. 

Dawson's reference to "the son and biographer of 
one of the great leaders of the Constitutionalists in 
New York" seems to point to Alexander Hamilton's 
son, J. C. Hamilton. In the latter's " Life " of his 
father, however, there seems to be no basis for such 
a charge as the one quoted. In all probability, the 
substance of Dawson's assertion — unless, indeed, the 
reference is to a personal communication — is merely 
a repetition of the charge contained in the earlier 
newspaper publication (in connection with which it is 
made), reinforced by a nebulous remembrance of some 
statement made by Hamilton which seemed to him to 
give color to the charge. This is made the more 
probable by the fact that both charges refer the source 
of corruption to "a neighbouring State," though, as 
we shall presently see, it is Rhode Island that is 
meant thereby in one case, while New York is ex- 
pressly named in the other. Now, it is scarcely 
conceivable that a second and independent stream of 
corruption should have existed, and yet have remained 
so absolutely unnoticed by persons contemporary with 
the occurrences. In disposing of the earlier charge, 
therefore, we may consider the later one to be disposed 
of as well. 

At the opening of the next session after the publi- 
cation of the " Bribery and Corruption " article above 
quoted, a demand was made in the Convention by 
Bowdoin and other Federalists for an investigation of 
the charges contained therein. Against the protests 
of White, Widgery, and Thompson, — protests which 
of themselves raise the presumption of falsity against 
the charge, — a committee was appointed to inquire 


into the matter.^ In spite of the refusal of the printers its authorship 

to give the name of their informant, the investigations 

of this committee and the pressure of public opinion 

had the effect, within less than a week, of bringing to 

light the author of the article in question. This 

proved to be one Colonel William Donnison, who now, 

in a card over his own signature, confessed that the 

only grounds that he had for his assertion were : first, 

the statement of one citizen to another (which he had 

overheard) that a plan was "on foot to silence Mr. 

iV[asson];" and secondly, another statement by "a. 

credible person . . ., that he was told at Providence 

about a week [before], by a reputable gentleman there, 

That a bag of money had been sent down to Boston to 

quiet the members of Convention in opposition to the 

new Constitution." * 

On such slender foundation, the merest rumor of a 
rumor, the whole story seems to rest. After the pub- 
lication of this card, not even the most rabid Antifed- 
eralist dared to repeat the charge. It was universally 
felt to be, on the showing of its author, absolutely 

Before dismissing wholly, however, this matter of Chargjeof 
improper influence, we should notice the statement of methods." 
three members of the Convention from the western 
part of the State (Consider Arms, Malachi Maynard, 
and Samuel Field), that one of their reasons for refus- 
ing to vote for ratification was their "disgust at the 
unfair methods which were taken in order to obtain a 
vote." This arose, however, as they proceed to ex- 
plain, merely from the fact that the opponents of the 
Constitution were " in sundry instances treated in a 
manner utterly inconsistent with that respect which is 
due to every free-bom citizen of the Commonwealth, 

* Independent Chronicle^ Jan. 24, 1788. 

« Massachusetts Centinei^ Jan. 30, 1788 ; see abo Ibid.^ Jan. 23. 



lu nature. especially when acting in the capacity of a repre- 
sentative" of the people.^ Doubtless, as is asserted 
in Austin's Life of Gerry ^ "irreclaimable malignants" 
>J were at times treated with scant courtesy by Federal- 
ists.^ At the same time, this was far from being the 
ordinary treatment accorded to them by their oppo- 
nents. Even were it the universal rule, however, there 
would be little ground for wonderment, in view of the 
vast importance of the issue; nor would there seem to 
be much occasion for reprobation, except in so far as 
the practice proved impolitic ; and, as has before been 
indicated, the Federalist leaders in Massachusetts were 
careful to see that matters did not go to this length. 

^ Hampshire Gazette^ April i6, 1788. 

* Austin, Life of Gerry ^ II. 71. For example, in the American 
Herald oi Jan. 21, 1788, ''a plain coontiyman," who is a member of 
the Convention, is represented as saying : ** I am pointed at and 
abused in the streets, for what ? Because I feel the independence 
of a Freeman, and act according to my sentiments." 



In the main, the opponents of the Constitution ac- Acquiescence 
cepted their defeat with good grace. After the final 
vote was announced, Nasson, Widgery, Taylor, and 
others of the leaders on that side, arose, one after the 
other, to inform the Convention of their acquiescence 
in the result. As Taylor put it, they had been " fairly 
beaten," and he for his part would "endeavor to infuse 
a spirit of harmony and love among the people." 
Widgery expressed the hope and belief " that no person 
would wish for, or suggest, the measure of a protest. " 
In all, eight speeches of this tenor are referred to in the 
published report of the debates.^ 

^ Debates,, pp. 280-82. Besides the persons quoted above, Abra- 
ham White of Norton (Bristol County), General Josiah Whitney 
of Harvard (Worcester County), and Daniel Cooley of Amherst 
made noteworthy speeches in favor of acquiescence. General 
Whitney, who had been instructed flatly against the proposed 
system, announced that he would " support it as much as if he 
had voted for it.** 

Nasson, in addition to his speech in the Convention, expressed 
his own sentiments, and his expectation as to the attitude of his 
constituents, in a letter to Thatcher, Feb. 26, 1788. ''As the 
Plan is now Adopted," he says, '* I make no doubt but the Eastward 
parts who have Ever been uniform in Support of Government will 
bes Still and I have not the Least doubt that when Call*' upon 
will Turn out Even to support this New plan when many who now 
appears forward will Scrink back for my Part I Exp't to be like 
the Nicher of Bray [the Vicar of Bray, whose change of religion 
with each change of sovereign during the English Reformation 


Conciliatory In large part, this happy issue was due to the 
^edcnUists. moderation and tact of the Federalist leaders. Every 

measure was taken to promote harmony, "by paying 
particular Attention to the Antis especially those of 
any Influence. " ^ After the decision of the great ques- 
tion on the 6th, the whole Convention was invited to 
partake of " a decent repast " in the Senate Chamber of 
the State House. There "all party ideas were done 
away. . . . The toasts given, were truly conciliatory." 
On the 8th a grand procession was held, — an excellent 
means to conciliate the populace, as Alexander Gray- 
don, of Pennsylvania, had remarked, — and again re- 
freshments were served, this time in Faneuil Hall; 
and although only about one-third of the procession 
could get access to them, the Federalists were careful 
to see that their " country friends were accommodated 
to their wishes. " * 

Upon some of the delegates, however, the blandish- 
ments of roast ox and New England rum proved of no 
avail.* One of these was old General Thompson, the 

was notorious] that is Set who will be King I hope to be looked 
upon a Good Sugect that is I mean by my Conduct to Declare 
it to the World I hope that we Shall Continue Peacable and Try 
this New Constitution and allso hope I Shall be Agreeably Sup- 
prised by finding it to turn out for the Best." {Thatcher Paper Sy 
No. 37) 

1 Jeremiah Hill to Thatcher, Feb. 28, 1788, Ibid,^ No. 39. 

* Massachusetts Centinel^ Feb. 9, 1788; reprinted, with the 
order of the procession, etc., in Debates^ pp. 323-34, The Antifed- 
eralists themselves bore testimony to the courtesy extended to 
them by their opponents. " Notwithstanding my opposion to the 
Constitution, and the anxiety of Boston for its adoption," wrote 
Widgery to Thatcher, while the memory of the Faneuil Hall ban- 
quet was still fresh within him, " I most Tel you I was never 
Treated with So much politeness in my Life as I was afterwards 
by the Treadesmen of Boston Merchants & every other Gentle- 
man." ( Thatcher Papers^ No. 29.) 

> Despite the publication, by Arms, Maynard, and Field, of their 


extent of whose opposition to the Constitution has Thompson 
several times before been noted In that opposition frreconcilable. 
he now continued implacable. While other delegates 
were making speeches acquiescing in the result, he is 
reported to have declared that he would oppose the Con- 
stitution as long as he had a hand to move, unless the 
full thirteen States came into the measure.^ Belknap 
fancied that there was "a kind of distraction about 
him."^ During the interval between the adjournment His efforts to 
of the Convention and the reassembling of the General ®^ "P •^*^^* 
Court, of which he was a member, he made a tour of the 
western counties, instead of returning to his home; 
and he is said to have called upon the New Hampshire 
Convention, and endeavored " to stir up what Strife he 
could there. *' ^ It is said that he exclaimed, as he left 
Boston, that he would "throw the State into Confu- 

reasons of dissent, and their characterization of the Constitution 
as **a curious piece of political mechanism, fabricated in such 
manner as may finally despoil the people of all their privileges,** 
they are not to be considered as differing in attitude from the 
members before mentioned. Indeed, they expressly say, ''we 
mean not to be disturbers of the peace should the states receive 
the Constitution ; but on the contrary declare it our intention, 
as we think it our duty, to be subject to * the powers that be,' 
wherever our lot may be cast." {Hampshire Gazette^ April i6, 

1 Widgery to Thatcher, Feb. 8, 1788, Thatcher Papers, No. 29. 

^ Belknap to Hazard, Feb. 10, 1788, Massachusetts Historical 
Society, Collections^ Fifth Series, III. 18. In this letter we are 
told that Theophilus Parsons, quite in keeping with the arbitrary 
practices which were to make him, while Chief Justice, the terror 
of the Massachusetts bar, sought to check Thompson's wild talk 
by cautioning him '* against indulging his opposition now the matter 
was settled," and by reminding him of the danger which he ran 
thereby " of being punished for treason." As Belknap tells the 
story, Thompson answered that he had no fear of being hanged, 
if he could only have him (Parsons) for his lawyer. 

» Jeremiah Hill to Thatcher, Feb. 28, 1788, Thatcher Papers^ 
No. 39. 


sion." Thomas B. Wait, who reports this utterance, 
adds the comment, " It is true, these were great swell- 
ing words : but he may do a great deal of mischief;" 
accordingly, though an Antifederalist himself. Wait 
calls upon Thatcher to exert his influence with Thomp- 
son to restrain him, adding that he does not think the 
latter "a man of a bad heart" * 

As to the results of Thompson's labors, we hear 

nothing. There can be no doubt, however, that they 

bore little or no fruit The people were not in a mood 

to countenance a revolutionary appeal from the decision 

Treatment of of their own representatives. Where such representa- 

^l^^^tes. tives had acted contrary to the known wishes of their 

constituents, they often met, it is true, with but a 
"cool reception" on their return. This was the case, 
for example, with Messrs. Rice and Sylvester, of Pow- 
nalboro*, Maine.^ In one case, that <rf William Symmes, 
the young Andover lawyer, the disfavor of his constitu- 

1 Wait to Thatcher, Feb. 29, lySa, Tkatdur Pi^ers^ No. 40. 

« Widgcry to Thatdier, Mardi 16, 17S8S /fewi, Na 46. We 
^ some infMination as to the sentiments entertained toward 
Nathaniel Barrell by his coostitiients in a letter from Nasson 
to Thatcher, Fd>. 26, 17SS. ''When I Arrived att the Coontj 
of Yofk,^ he writes, ** I Received in Genefal the Thanks cf all 
I Mett, while oar Friend Bar'el (iat Such I jet Esteem him) 
was mndi Abused [£. e^ to Nasson ; Barrell had not jet retomed 
to Yoric] how far die Town wHl Cany their Resentment I Cannot 
Say I Strove as moch as in me Lay to keep down the ^xrite of 
the people and I hope that they will not hurt his peraon or his 
p ropqty . ... he was Mndi to Blam I diink not for lus Voting 
bat for Striving to Enfiame tfie Minds of tf)e Town and Coonty 
j^nst the ti>en pioposed Plan and by tiiat means Got himsdf 
Elected.^ (Ihid,^ No. 37.) Nasson^s fdlow-townsmen made lum 
and Wid^nerj their candidates for pregdential electors, giving them 
twenty-three votes, as against only nine cast for &e Federa&st 
ca n d i dates, David Sewall and Joseph Noyes. This infonnatian is 
kindly furnished by Mr. Edwin Eroeiy, of New Bedford, Mass, 
who is preparing a history of the town of Sanford. 


ents was so pronounced that the recreant delegate was 
forced to remove to another part of the State. ^ 

As to the Constitution itself, however, the general General ac- 
opinion seems to have been that which is reported Jhe^e^^Tit^ 
by Silas Lee to have prevailed at Biddeford, namely, 
that it had ''had a fair examination ... & been 
carried by a Majority, by whom they [were] ever will- 
ing to be governed."^ In Worcester County, where 
trouble was most to be feared, we are told within two 
weeks that a pacific disposition was "considerably 
prevalent," and that many persons who had formerly 
opposed the Constitution now hoped that it would 
"operate for the general good."* Within a few weeks. 
Captain Dench, who had strenuously opposed the new 
system in the Convention, is reported to have declared 
publicly at Boston that in his town of Hopkinton, 
where the inhabitants had before been "almost to a 
man" against the new plan, there were not then ten 
men who "would not spend the last drop of their blood 
in its support."* In short, everything confirms the 
view which was taken by Rufus King: " I have made a 
business of conversing with men from all parts of the 
State," he writes to Alexander Hamilton, June 12, 
1788, "and am completely satisfied that the Consti- 
tution is highly popular; that its opponents are now 
very few, and those few hourly diminishing." * 

Some traces of Antifederalism, however, are to be Lingering 
found in the action of the General Court, which re- opposition 

1 Bailey, Historical Sketches of A ndover^ pp. 131, 397. 

2 To Thatcher, Feb. 22, 1788, Thatcher Papers, No. 36. 

« ** A Gentleman in Worcester County, to his Friend in Suffolk," 
Independent Chronicle, Feb. 21, 1788. 

* Salem Mercury^ May 27, 1788. 

* Life of Kingy I. 333. To the same effect is a letter from 
Silas Lee to Thatcher, March 20, 1788. "Many who have been 
much opposed to the Constitution," he sa3rs, "are become warm 
advocates for it." {Thatcher Papers^ No. 48.) 



address to 
the General 


assembled at Boston toward the close of February, 1788. 
The first outbreak was occasioned by the address with 
which the Governor opened the session. In this ad- 
dress Hancock does not hesitate to give that praise 
to the new system which in October it had not been 
"within the duties of [his] office** to accord; and of 
the Convention itself he says, "I believe there was 
never a body of men assembled, with greater purity 
of intention, or with higher zeal for the public 

To this praise, both of the measure and of the men 
ratifying it, Phanuel Bishop, whose name is wanting 
in the list of delegates speaking for acquiescence, took 
serious exceptions. There still exists in the archives 
of the State, at Boston, the manuscript of a motion 
made by him in the House in amendment of the an- 
swer to the address of the Governor. "While we 
suspend our opinion,** it runs, "of the purity of Inten- 
tion and of the great zeal for the Safety and wellfare 
with which the late convention assembled we are in 
Justice to our constituents constrained to say, that 
the result of their deliberations does not seem well 
calculated for those valuable purposes '* mentioned by 
the Governor, namely, to insure the defence of, and pro- 
mote tranquillity and happiness among, the States. " If 
the amendments proposed with the ratification . . .,*' 
continues the old insurgent, "had been made a con- 
dition of ratification they would have gone some way 

* Massachusetts Archives, MS. Journal of the House, VIII. 
378-9; also Debates^ ip^, 18, 283-4. In addition to what is here 
quoted, the obvious imbecility of the Confederation, the difficulty 
of framing a new system, and the necessity of union, are touched 
upon. In conclusion the Governor expresses his assurance of an 
early adoption of the amendments proposed, and says: ''When 
they shall be added to the purposed plan, I shall consider it as 
the most perfect system of government, as to the objects it em- 
braces, that has been known amongst mankind." 


tho not fully to a conciliation of our minds to the 
System — but your excellencey will permitt us to say 
that as they now stand they neither comport with the 
dignity or safety of this Commonwealth."^ In his 

^ As this motion was not printed at the time, and as it seems 
hitherto to have escaped the notice of historians, the material por- 
tion of it is appended hereto. As will be observed, it follows 
closely the heads of the Governor's address. 

*' VVe have long been sensible of the imbecility of the 
Confederation of the United States," it reads, " and of the Con- 
sequences of that Imbecility, and therefore appointed delegates to 
the late general Convention for the Sole and express purpose of 
revising the articles of Confederation, And reporting to Congress 
& the several Legis[la]tures such alterations and provitions 
therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirm** by the 
States render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies 
of Government and the preservation of the Union If they had 
observed and acted agreeable to their Commission no Difficulty 
perhaps would have arisen from the numbers of a people spread 
over a vast Extent of territory containing such a great variety of 
Soils and under such extreems of climate and with such different 
views and habits while they were so well united in that one object, 
we are fully persuaded that our national existance might in that 
way have been preserved with unanimity tranquility and peace. — 
we do not wish to be known to the world under any other Ap- 
pellation than that of the United States. — 

*' In Confederation and Union with our Sister States, we have 
happily bafled the intrigues and defeated the force of great Bri^ 
tain, have supported the rights of mankind and secured the Free- 
dom and Independence of America — while we wish to preserve 
the union entire and are fully sensible of the 111 consequences of 
an interuption of it — we are sorry to differ from your Excellencey 
in the mode of effecting the first and avoiding the last. — Every 
good Government should have for its Objects — Defence against 
external enemies and the preservation of Internal tranquility and 
happiness — while we suspend our opinion of the purity of Inten- 
tion and of the great zeal for the Safety and wellfare with which 
the late convention assembled we are in Justice to our constituents 
constrained to say, that the result of their deliberations does not 
seem well calculated for those valuable purposes. 

" we shall under this head only add, that the rights & liberties 



agreed to. 

address to 
the people. 

objections to the reply as originally reported, Bishop 
had the support of a majority of the members of the 
House. A motion to amend his amendment by ex- 
punging the clause, "while we suspend our opinion," 
and inserting "while we do not doubt " in its place, was 
lost The whole matter was finally settled by a vote 
that the reply, as reported by the committee of the two 
Houses, and as voted by the Senate, be referred to a 
committee, which should be instructed to report "such 
amendments thereto, as that the said address when 
passed may not contain any opinion of the legislature 
upon the merits of the constitution. " * 

In one other way the Antifederalist sentiments of a 
portion of this House were manifested. To insure a 
favorable reception of the ratification, the Convention, 
on the day on which it adjourned, had appointed a com- 
mittee of its members to prepare " an address to the peo- 
ple, stating the principles of the said constitution, the 
various objections which were made against it, and the 
answers they received; and explaining the absolute 
necessity of adopting some energetic system of federal 
government for the preservation of the union. " This 
address, when prepared, was to be transmitted to the 
General Court, with the recommendation that it be 
published, and that copies be forwarded to the several 
towns of the Commonwealth.^ 

of a great contry should stauxl on firmer groonds then that of meer 

" If the amendments proposed with the ratificatiOQ of the kte 
conTention, had been made a condition of ratification they would 
have gone some way tho not fally to a condfiation of oar nunds to 
the System — bat your excellencey will permitt as to say that as 
they now stand they neither comport widi the ifigmty or safety at 
tiiis Commonwealth.^' (Massachusetts Archives, Hoise Docn- 
ment Xa 26S9: MS. Joomal of die Hoose, VIIL 40a.) 

^ /Md^ p. 411. 

* See Papers of the Conventioii of 17S8, State Hoose; abo 


The committee seems to have soon completed its Action of 
labors. A resolve accordingly was passed by the ^ ^^^^^' 
Senate at this session, directing the official printers to 
print the address, as required by the foregoing resolu- 
tion. ^ In the House the matter came up on March 29, 
when the Senate resolution was brought down for con- 
currence. The proceedings which thereupon ensued 
are quite obscure, as the entries on the Journal are 
brief, and no record of the debates has been preserved 
in the public prints, or, seemingly, in private letters 
of the time. It is certain, however, that the House 
showed itself pronouncedly hostile to the publication 
of the address in question. In the first place, a motion 
to defer the matter to the next session was defeated, 
by a vote of one hundred and thirty to forty-seven. 
The question of concurring in the Senate resolve was Hostility of 
then put, and it too was defeated by the overwhelm- * ® °^®* 
ing vote of one hundred and eighteen to two.^ This 
vote was decisive of the matter, as the Senate took 
no further steps to secure conciurence. The address 
was never published ; nor, so far as can be ascertained, 
has the manuscript of it been preserved. A letter 
from Nathaniel Gorham to King, under date of April Gorham on 
6, 1788, throws some light on the reasons for non- fornor^^'** 
publication. "The Legislature," he writes, "have publication, 
ended the session without doing any mischief. The 
utmost prudence & moderation was necessary & it 

Debates^ pp. 92-3. George Cabot, Theopbilus Parsons, Ebenezer 
Peirce, Caleb Strong, and the Secretary of the Convention (George 
Richards Minot, the author of the History of the Insurrections in 
Massachusetts), were named as this committee. 

1 Massachusetts Archives, MS, Journal of the Senate, VIII. 
395; also Debates^ p. 322. 

« Massachusetts Archives, MS. Journal of the House, VIII. 
517. What seems to be a record of the votes is written in the 
margin, but the figures are not perfectly legible. 



was exerted Things were so critically situated that 
the publicaticm of the papers would have been inju- 
rious ; neither will it now be of service, as the people 
so far as applys immediately to the federal Government 
are perfectly quiet " * 
Importance of Throughout the Union the decision of Massachusetts 
of Massa- ^ ^ ^^ Constitution had been anxiously awaited. Be- 
c*«wetts. fQfig Ijct determination was reached five States only — 

Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Con- 
necticut — had passed upon the new system. In only 
two of these, Pennsylvania and Coimecticut, had any 
opposition been manifested, and in the former only had 
. that opposition led to a contest comparable in impor* 
tance with that which took place in Massachusetts. On 
all sides the belief was expressed that the action taken 
by the latter State would be decisive of the final result 
Even before the Massachusetts Convention had assem- 
bled, a New York Federalist had written: "All our 
hopes are on Massachusetts — should she adopt the new 
Constitution — I have no doubt it would be in force by 

1 Uft of Kimgy I. 324. A fordier manifestation fA Antifeder- 
alism may be seen in the election held in the spring of 1788. 
Toward the dose of February, a meeting of AntifederaUsts was 
held at Dndley, Worcester County, at which it was resolved to 
send messengers into every town in the counties of Worcester, 
Berkshire, Hampshire, Bristol, and Middlesex, *« pointing the 
inhabitants of these places to Gerry & Warren for Govr. and 
Lt. Govt." (Gore to King, March 2, 1788, /**«/• i P- 323O Thi» 
looks somewhat like a nominating convention. From the returns 
it is apparent that these candidates fell far short of getting the full 
vote which had been cast against the Constitution at the time 
when delegates to the Convention were elected. Hancock got 
idur-fifths of the votes cast for Governor, while Gerry got only 
one-fifth. The Federalist support given Hancock must, however, 
be taken into consideration. Of thirty-one members of the Senate 
elected by the people, only six were Antifederalists. (King to 
Madison, May 25, 1788, Ihid,^ p. 329.) 


May next, at furthest." ^ The decision of Massachusetts 
either way, wrote Madison to Washington, January 20, 
1788, would involve the result in New York. An ad- 
verse decision, he intimated, would also probably em- 
bolden the Pennsylvania minority to set at naught the 
ratification of that State and make some rash but dan- -^ 
gerous move against the new system.^ The leaders of 
the Federalists in Massachusetts had realized the im- 
portance of the issue. " Without overrating their own 
importance," Knox had written to Washington, Feb* 
ruary 10, 1788, they "conceived that the decision of 
Massachusetts would most probably settle the fate of 
the proposition ; " * hence the caution and conciliation 
which had marked their procedure at every step. 

As events proved, these expectations were not greatly struggles in 
exaggerated. It is true that the contest lingered on ^^^^^ States, 
for many months. In two States, Virginia and New 
York, struggles fully as intense as those which had 
taken place in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts were 
yet to ensue; while in two others, Rhode Island and 
North Carolina, ratification was to be delayed until 
after the new system of government had been formally 
inaugurated. Nevertheless, the ratification of the pro- 
posed Constitution by Massachusetts was the turning- 
point in the contest. Not only had that State influence 
enough to decide many who before had been wavering, 
but she had by her " conciliatory proposition " shown a 
way by which the Constitution might be saved, while at 
the same time the dangers would be obviated which 
many conceived would result from unconditional accept- 
ance. To Jeflferson, Richard Henry Lee, and others 
who stood high in the counsel of the Antifederalists, 
the idea of proposing amendments, not as a condition 

1 Massachusetts Centinel^ Dec. 29, 1787. 

« Madison, Letters and other Writings (1865), !• 370. 

« Debates^ p. 410 ; Drake, Life of Knox^ p. 15a 


of ratification, but as a mere recommendation to Con- 
gress, was exceedingly distasteful.* To the rank and 
file of the opposition in other States, as in Massachu- 
setts, the idea proved exceedingly taking. If we may 
believe an anonymous letter from a gentleman in " one 
of the Southern States," the principal persons in the 
opposition there had " expressed themselves in favour 
of adopting the plan in the form in which it was 
adopted in Massachusetts, carrying the recommended 
amendments rather farther than she [had] done: And 
many of the ablest supporters of the plan [had] declared 
their readiness to meet the opposition on this ground.'*^ 
Influence The most Striking testimony to the influence of Mas- 

chuscite^ sachusetts in this particular, however, is to be found in 

the action of the Conventions themselves. Prior to 
the inauguration by Massachusetts of the practice of 
recommending amendments, the issue presented had 
been the bare one of acceptance or rejection. Of the 
five States which had already ratified the Constitution, 
not one had officially proposed a single amendment 
to that instrument After Massachusetts had once 
pointed out the way, however, all this was changed: 
of the seven States which had yet to ratify, only one, 
Maryland, omitted to take such action. 

^ As is well known, JefiEerson soon receded from his antago- 
nistic position toward the Constitution ; by July, 1788, he had 
come to regard the Massachusetts mode of ratification ** as the 
only rational one." Elliot, Debates^ V. 573. 

> Salem Mercury y April 8, 1788 ; see also, in the issue of April 
15, a letter to the same effect as regards Virginia. 




[From the Hampshire Chronicle^ Springfield, December ii and i8, 1787.] 

Great, and perhaps, just encomiums are, in the pub- General 
lick prints, and in private circles, daily bestowed on the consSutton^ 
Constitution reported by the late Federal Convention. 
Not the least objection, that I recollect, has publickly ap- 
peared against it. Among those in particular, who are 
reputed wise and discerning, almost every one seems 
eager to embrace it This being the case, it will un- 
doubtedly be considered by many, as discovering a want 
of modesty in any one, who may presume to express a 
doubt of the expediency and happy consequences of 
adopting the constitution. 

As truth will bear the light ; and by how much the 
more close examination it undergoes, by so much the 
more ravishing beauty it will shine ; there can be no dan- 
ger in hinting at some of the objections that arise against 
this form of government, in the mind of one, who feels 
for his own safety — who has never learned to see with 
eyes, other than his own, and who, at the same time, 
wishes the happiness of his fellow-men, so far at least, 
as that of his own is included. 

Power has not commonly been suffered to lie down dor- Power given 
mant, and to rust in the hands of its possessors, for want 
of use. It may well be presumed that men, whether 
individuals, or publick bodies, will generally exercise as 
much power as they are legally vested with, and as 



Not an 
of the con- 

A violation 
of that 

much to their own private advantage as they have a 
constitutional right to do. — With this general idea in 
view, let us attend to the Constitution ; and soberly con- 
sider some of the consequences that will probably 
follow, if it should be adopted by the United States. 

It may be observed in the first place, that this Consti- 
tution is not an amendment of the confederation, in the 
manner therein stipulated ; but it is an intire subversion 
of that solemn compact. — By the 13th article of that 
compact, the faith of the United States is solemnly 
plighted to each and every State, that " the articles of 
this confederation shall be inviolably observed by every 
State, and the union shall be perpetual ; nor shall any 
alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them, 
unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the 
United States and be afterwards confirmed by tlu legisla- 
ture of every state." 

By the 7th article of the constitution it is ordained, 
that ** the ratification of the conventions of nine States 
shall be sufiicient for the establishment of this Constitu- 
tion between the States so ratifying the same." 

Will not the adoption of this constitution in the man- 
ner here prescribed, be justly considered as a perfidious 
violation of that fundamental and solemn compact, by 
which the United States hold an existence, and claim to 
be a people? If a nation may so easily discharge itself 
from obligations to abide by its most solemly \sic\ and 
fundamental compacts, may it not, with still greater 
ease, do the same in matters of less importance? And 
if nations may set the example, may not particular 
States, citizens, and subjects follow? What then will 
become of publick and private faith? Where is the 
ground of allegiance that is due to government ? Are 
not the bonds of civil society dissolved? Or is alle- 
giance founded only in power? Has moral obligation 
no place in civil government? In mutual compacts can 


one party be bound while the other is free? Or, can « 
one party disannul such compact, without the consent of 
the other? If so, constitutions and national compacts 
are, I conceive, of no avail; and oaths of allegiance 
must be preposterous things. 

By this constitution, the legislative powers are vested in Length of 
a Congress of the United States^ which shall consist of a x^^^^^ 
Senate and House of Representatives, The latter are 
to be chosen for two years, and the former for six. It 
has been a generally received maxim, that frequent and 
free elections are the greatest security against corruption 
in government, and the oppression of the people. Have 
the United States, hitherto, suffered any inconvenience 
from annual elections? Have their delegates been too 
often shifted, or too frequently recalled ? This, I believe, 
will not be pretended. 

When once the Senators and Representatives are Congress 
elected, they are under no constitutional check or ^i^tltueats. 
controul from their constituents, either by instructions, 
being liable to be recalled, or otherwise. It is not in 
the power of the citizens or the legislature of any par- 
ticular State, nor of all the citizens and legislatures of 
all the States, either to give any legal instructions to a 
single member of Congress, or to call him to account 
for any part of his conduct relative to the trust reposed 
in him. He may be impeached by the House of Repre- 
sentatives, provided he conducts himself in a manner 
that is offensive to them ; but he cannot be convicted 
in any case, without the concurrence of two-thirds of 
the Senators present. 

The Congress are to have power to levy and collect Congressmen 
taxes, duties, imposts and excises, at their discretion ; and o^pay.*' 
out of this revenue, to make themselves such compensa- 
tion for their services as they may think proper. 

Is it altogether certain, that a body of men elected for 
so long a term, rendered thus independent, and most of 



with State 


them placed at the distance of some hundreds of miles 
from their constituents, will pay a more faithful regard 
to their interest, and set an example of economy, more 
becoming the circumstances of this country, than they 
would do, if they were annually elected, subject to some 
kind of instructions, and liable to be recalled, in case of 
male administration 7 Have the several states, in the 
estimation of the Compilers of this Constitution, been 
hitherto, so parsimonious and unjust in paying their 
delegates, that they have rendered themselves unfit to 
contract with their Senators and Representatives, re- 
specting a compensation for their services? If so what 
may we suppose will be considered as a just compensa- 
tion, when this honourable Body shall set their own pay, 
and be accountable to none but themselves? 

It will probably be urged, " Our State Legislatures 
set their own pay; and why should not Congress do 
the same." 

If the cases are similar, the reasoning may be good ; 
but there is a wide difference between them. The 
members of our State legislature are annually elected — 
they are subject to instructions — they are chosen 
within small circles — they are sent but a small distance 
from their respective homes: Their conduct is con- 
stantly known to their constituents. They frequently 
see and are seen, by the men whose servants they are. 
While attending the duties of their office, their connex- 
ions in general, are with men who have been bred 
to economy, and whose circumstances require them 
to live in a frugal style. They are absent from their 
respective homes but a few days, or weeks, at most 
They return, and mix with their neighbours of the lowest 
rank, see their poverty, and feel their wants. — On the 
contrary: The members of congress are to be chosen 
for a number of years. They are to be subject to no 
instructions. They are to be chosen within large circles : 


They will be unknown to a very considerable part of 
their constituents, and their constituents will be not less 
unknown to them. They will be far removed and long 
detained, from the view of their constituents. Their 
general conduct will be unknown. Their chief connec- Congressmen 
tions will be with men of the first rank in the United J^t^^^t 
States, who have been bred in affluence at least, if not 
in the excess of luxury. They will have constantly 
before them the enchanting example of ambassadors, 
other publick Ministers, and Consuls from foreign courts, 
who, both from principles of policy and private ambi- 
tion, will live in the most splendid and costly style. 
Men are naturally enough inclined to vie with each 
other. Let any body of men whatever be placed, from 
year to year, in circumstances like these ; let them have 
the unlimitted controul of the property of the United 
States ; and let them feel themselves vested, at the same 
time, with a constitutional right, out of this property to 
make themselves such compensation as they may think 
fit : And then, let any one judge, whether they will long 
retain the same ideas, and feel themselves under equal 
restraints, as to fixing their own pay, with the members 
of our state legislature. This part of the Constitution, 
I conceive to be calculated not only to enhance the 
expense of the federal government to a degree that will 
be truely burdensome ; but also, to increase that luxury 
and extravagance, in general, which threatens the ruin 
of the United States ; and that, to which the Eastern 
States in particular, are wholly unequal. 

By this Federal Constitution, each House is to be the Power to 
judge, not only of the elections, and returns, but also of quj^cations 
the qualifications of its members ; and that, without any ^^ members, 
other rule than such as they themselves may prescribe. 
This power in Congress, I take to be equal to that of a 
negative on elections in general. And the freedom of 
elections being taken away, where is the security or 


liberty that is reserved to the citizens under this federal 
and to r^- government? But as if this were a light thing, and the 
late elections, liberties q{ ^^ people not Sufficiently cramped by their 

election being thus exposed to a negative, at the pleas- 
ure of each House ; the Congress are also vested with 
the power *of prescribing, not only the times and 
manner of holding elections for Senators; but, the 
times, manner and places of holding elections for Repre- 
sentatives. There is undoubtedly, some interesting and 
important design in the Congress being by the Con- 
stitution, thus particularly vested with this discre- 
tionary power of controuling elections. Will it be 
urged that, as to such particular times and places for 
holding elections as may be most convenient for the 
several States, the Congress will be more competent 
judges than the citizens themselves, or their respective 
legislatures? This surely will not be pretended. The 
end then of placing this power in the hands of the Con- 
gress, cannot have been, the greater convenience of the 
citizens who are interested and concerned in those elec- 
tions. But whatever may have been the design^ it is very 
easy to%ee that a very interesting and important use may 
especially as be made of this power ; and I can conceive of but one 
electioS. reason why it should be vested in the Congress; par- 
ticularly as it relates to the places of holding elections 
for Representatives. This power being vested in the 
Congress may enable them, from time to time, to throw 
the elections into such particular parts of the sev- 
eral States where the dispositions of the people shall 
appear to be the most subservient to the wishes and 
views of that honourable body; or, where the interests 
of the major part of the members may be found to lie. 
Should it so happen (as it probably will) that the major 
part of the Members of Congress should be elected in, 
and near the seaport towns ; there would, in that case, 
naturally arise strong inducements for fixing the places 


for holding elections in such towns, or within their 
vicinity. This would effectually exclude the distant 
parts of the several States, and the bulk of the landed 
interest, from an equal share in that government, in 
which they are deeply interested. 

There is nothing in the constitution that determines Elections 
what shall be considered as an election of a Represen- piuralityf 
tative. The Representatives are to be chosen by the 
people ; and where there are a number to be chosen, it 
is, perhaps, not very likely that any one gentleman will 
have a majority of all the votes. Those who may 
appear to have the greatest number of votes must, 
therefore be considered as being elected. — I wish 
there never might be any competition between the 
landed and mercantile interests, nor between any dif- 
ferent classes of men whatever. Such competitors will, 
however, exist, so long as occasion and opportunity for 
it is given, and while human nature remains the same 
that it ever has been. The citizens in the seaport towns which favors 
are numerous ; they live compact ; their interests are one ; ^^^P^*^^^^^** 
there is a constant connection and intercourse between 
them; they can, on any occasion, centre their votes 
where they please. This is not the case with those 
who are in the landed interest ; they are scattered far 
and wide ; they have but little intercourse and connec- 
tion with each other. To concert uniform plans for 
carrying elections of this kind is intirely out of their 
way. Hence, their votes if given at all, will be no less 
scattered than are the local situations of the voters 
themselves. Wherever the seaport towns agree to cen- 
tre their votes, there will, of course, be the greatest 
number. A gentleman in the country therefore, who 
may aspire after a seat in Congress, or who may wish 
for a post of profit under the federal government, must 
form his connections, and unite his interest with 
those towns. Thus, I conceive, a foundation is laid for 



The landed 
interest will 
be unrepre- 

Office of 

His election 
will produce 
venality, cor- 
ruption, etc. 

throwing the whole power of the federal government 
into the hands of those who are in the mercantile inter- 
est; and for the landed, which is the great interest of 
this country to lie unrepresented, forlorn and without 
hope. It grieves me to suggest an idea of this kind : 
But I believe it to be important and not the mere 
phantom of imagination, or the result of an uneasy and 
restless disposition. I am convinced of the candour 
and liberal disposition of gentlemen who are now in 
the seaport towns, and the mercantile interest; and 
I am fully persuaded, they desire no such undue ad- 
vantages over their brethren in the country, who are 
in the landed interest. But, let a man be king over 
Syria; and he may do things for which he had, before, 
no disposition. The Constitution is designed for time 
to come. 

The executive power is to be vested in a President of 
the United States^ who is to hold his office during the 
term offouryears^ and who is to be commander in chief 
of the army and navy^ and of the militia of the several 
States, when called into the actual service of the United 
States. He is to receive for his services, at stated times, a 
compensation which shall not be increased nor diminished 
during the term for which he is elected. This compen- 
sation must, and ought, to be suited to the dignified 
station in which that officer is placed, which can- 
not be considered as far below that of an European 
Monarch. Elective Monarchies, wherever they have 
obtained, have generally been attended with the most 
dreadful consequences. And I am not without fear 
that venality and corruption may shortly be found among 
some of the least calamities that will attend those elec- 
tions. At no very distant period, we may expect the 
most violent competitions between individual aspiring 
men, between particular States, and between the East- 
ern and Southern States. When this shall take place, 


it will be natural to seek, and easy to find, sufficient 
pretences for recourse to arms. 

The judicial power of the United States is to be vested in Ejmense of 
one Supreme Courts afid in such other inferior Courts as ^" *^**^* 
Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The 
fudges of both are to hold their offices during good behaviour 
and at stated times^ to receive for their services a compensa- 
tion which shall not be diminished during their continuance 
in office. — From the great variety of cases to which this 
judicial power is to extend, it is apparent these courts 
must be numerous. And as the judges are, at stated 
times, to receive from the publick, a compensation for 
their services, this must add a very considerable sum to 
the expense of government. Every trifling controversy of 
twenty shillings, or less, between citizens of different 
States, must be brought, it seems, before one of these 
Federal Courts. The great number of publick men that 
must be supported on the plan of this Constitution, in 
addition to the governments of the particular States, must 
lay a burden on the citizens Which there is reason to 
fear, will prove insupportable. 

The publick mind I fear, is at this critical juncture. Reaction 
prepared to do the same that almost every people, who d^^o^m. 
have enjoyed an excessive degree of liberty have done 
before ; — to plunge headlong into the dreadful abyss 
of Despotick Government. — At the time of forming 
the Confederation, the publick rage was on the side of 
liberty. The reigning disposition then was, to secure 
the highest degrees of liberty to the people, and to 
guard against every possible instance of oppression in 
their rulers. The consequence is, want of sufficient 
energy in government We have had a surfeit of lib- 
erty; and, to many, the very name has now become 

That the Congress ought to have further powers than 
those with which they are vested by the Confederation, 


Remedy as no reasonable man will deny. That this is absolutely 
dLe^!^^ necessary in order that the United States should con- 
tinue much longer to exist, with any tolerable degree 
of reputation, I am fully convinced. But that the Con- 
grress, or any other body of men, should be vested with 
all those independent and unlimitted powers prescribed 
in the Constitution, appears to me, by no means neces- 
sary. Considering the principles by which publick 
bodies are generally influenced, I am very apprehen- 
sive, that if this Constitution is adopted, the remedy 
proposed will, in no very distant period of time, prove 
at least equally distressing with the disease itself. The 
strength and energy of government does not, I conceive, 
so much consist in particular men, being vested with 
unlimitted powers, as it does in a due regulation of the 
necessary powers with which they are vested, and in 
effectual provision for the exercise of those powers. It is 
possible, I believe, for a government to be weak in the 
hands of a Despot, and strong where considerable degrees 
of liberty are enjoyed. 
Amendment We have practiced but a few years on the confed- 
suffid^!?^*^ eration ; long enough however, to discover its princi- 
ple l^sic] defects. The great embarassments under 
which we have laboured, are found, I imagine, to have 
risen from the want of a revenue, and a general regu- 
lation of trade. If Congress (continuing in all other 
respects, to possess the same powers which they do at 
present) were vested with the further power of laying 
and collecting taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, and 
with the exclusive right of regulating Commerce, I be- 
lieve our federal government would be as firm and 
happy as might reasonably be expected to fall to the 
lot of humanity, in this state of imperfection. 
Presidency. If it is indeed necessary that we should have a Presi- 

dent, vested with the powers prescribed in the Consti- 
tution, I am fully persuaded that rather than that he 


should be elected in the manner therein described, and 
for the term limitted, it would be attended with con- 
sequences less pernicious, at once, to make the office 
hereditary and during life. This would, at least, prevent 
that rivalship, venality, corruption, and tumult, which 
may be expected, sooner or later, to attend those 

If it is further necessary that a Judicial Court should Judiciary. 
be constituted, whose powers shall extend to certain 
cases of national importance; this, I apprehend, may 
be done with equal advantage, and less inconvenience, 
without multiplying these Courts in the manner which 
the Constitution prescribes. 

In the case of direct taxation, the rule of apportion- Direct T^ 
ment among the several States, I take to be very un- "^"^ 
equal, and in its operation will prove exceedingly inju- 
rious to the Eastern States. These States, compared 
with the Southern, have always abounded in people 
more than in wealth ; and from the nature of their cli- 
mate and soil, will forever continue to do the same. 
Yet, by this rule of apportionment, a great allowance is 
made in favour of the Southern States : Thus three per- 
sons, including those bound to service for a term of 
years, being reckoned equal to five slaves. In the 
Eastern States there are but few slaves. In Massachu- 
setts, there are none. There are in that State, a large 
number of negroes ; and in apportioning the taxes, three 
of these negroes are to be reckoned equal to five in the 
Southern States. 

When I consider the independent situation in which A govern- 
the members of Congress are placed, — the sovereign not^of^Lws!^* 
right of controuling elections, which that honourable 
body are to possess, — the discretionary, and unlimitted 
power, vested in each House to judge of the qualifi- 
cations of its members; and that by such rules only 
as they themselves may prescribe, and alter as they 


please, — the unbridled temptations that will be con- 
stantly before them to aggrandize themselves, their 
connexions, and friends, at the expense of their constit- 
uents, and the unbounded opportunity they will have 
to do this : I am constrained to believe, that the prin- 
ciples on which the Constitution is predicated, are such 
as tend to a government of Men^ and not of Laws. And, 
notwithstanding the high encomiums that are bestowed 
on this form of government, I shall be most disagreeably 
\^sic] disappointed, if it does not prove, in its operation, 
to be one of the most unequal, arbitrary, oppressing, 
venal, and corrupt governments that is extant. 
Comparison I am sensible that the office of President of the United 
^ Constitution. States is, in some respects, different from that of King 

of Great Britain ; and also, that the powers of the Senate 
are, in some measure different from those of the House 
of Lords : Yet, either the one, or the other, existing in 
America, might be pernicious to the people. And it 
may be yet uncertain, whether, in every instance 
wherein they differ, the difference is in favour of the 
Federal Government. — In offices that are elective, where 
the elections are liable to embarassments, or exposed 
to venal and corrupt influence, it may admit of some 
doubt, whether the man of the greatest integrity, or the 
man of the greatest intrigue, stands the fairest chance 
for preferment! 

Thus I have ventured, with freedom, and I hope, with 
candour, to express my own ideas on this interesting 
and important subject. I have no disposition to kindle 
a flame, nor to excite any groundless fears, in the minds 
of my fellow citizens. I most ardently wish for an 
^Cefficient, firm and permanent system of government ; 
and at the same time, that the people at large may 
enjoy as much liberty and ease, as may be consistent 

with such a government. 




No. L 

[Massachusetts Centinel^ Boston, December 29, 1787.] 
To the Members of t?u Convention of Massachusetts. 

Honourable Frunds, and Fellow Citizms, 

You are called on, and will soon convene to con- introduction, 
duct a matter of the last importance to your country — 
the confidence of your constituents in your abilities and 
integrity can never be more fully expressed, than by their 

1 The author of this series of letters, or at least of a part of them, 
was probably James Warren, who was at this time Speaker of the 
House of Representatives, but who is perhaps better known now 
as the husband of Mercy (Otis) Warren. He was born in 1726, and 
was a son of James Warren, sherifiE of Plymouth County under the 
crown; he graduated at Harvard in 1745, and at the death of his 
father came into possession of a profitable mercantile business. He 
entered early into the revolutionary movement, serving several 
years in the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, and also for 
some time on the navy board under the Continental Congress. In 
State politics since the Revolution he seems to have identified 
himself with the popular party, and to have sympathized to some 
extent with the Shays's Rebellion. In the newspapers of the day 
his friendship to tender laws, and his enmity to impost duties are 
referred to as well known. See, for example, Boston Gazette^ Oct 
29, 11^7 J the dialogue between ** Mr. Schism and Mr. Cutbrush." 
In the contest over the Constitution he became one of the leaders 
of the party opposing ratification. See, for example, in the Massa- 
chusetts Centinel^ Nov. 24, 1787, the so-called ** Ship News," where 

reference is made to ** the ship W n, which is anchored in M n 

road, laden with inflammables and other stores for the antifederal 



safirages on tbe present occasion — and on jronr 
dom and firmness is in a great measure suspended, the 
fate of tbe United States. 

In afree State like this, and under such circumstances, 
every individual must be anxious at the approach of an 
event, which will entail happiness or misery, not only 
on himselC his famOy, and the conununity, but also on 
his and their posterity: — He has therefore a ri^ii to 
address you, and your patriotism will prompt 3'on to 
consider seriously, whatever shall be ofiered on die sub- 
ject with reason and candour, and be worthy of your 
OoKfid Seneca I think has established this maxim, that in all 

concerns of life, we should enquire, ^rs/, what we want, 
and secondly^ how we are to attain it? — Apply these to 
the present case, and the answers are plain : We want 
a free^ efficient feeUral government — and can only attain 
it* by a candid^ dispassumate^ discussion of the subject 
A system of government has been proposed by the 
federal Convention: Some are for adopting, some for 
amending, and others for rejecting it : And when it is 
considered that a federal government must necessarily 
be more complicated in its nature than a simple ane^ and 
that to form the latter, the ingenui^*^ of man has ne\*er 
yet been able to establish fixed principles which will 
apply in all cases, is it a matter of surprize, that in 
forming a Federal Constitution, even sensible^ disinter- 
ested men should difier in opinion, and require an 
investigation of their principles, in order to convince 

fleet ; " Governor Hatdiinson's mansion at Milton was at this time 
Warren's residence. The evidence that these letters in particnfar 
are to be ascribed to Warren is partly circumstantial ; we have also, 
however, the statement of the biographer of James Snifivan that 
these writings "• are stated, with an air of aathority, to have come 
from the pen of a gentleman of Plymouth ** (Amorr. Lifi ofSmllh' 
van, I. 227> This statement points unmistakably to Warren. 


each other, and to correct their mutual errours? Surely 

not, and the more calm and temperate their discussions 

are, the greater will be their prospect of success. Some 

able writers on both sides have favoured us with their 

sentiments on the three great questions respecting the 

adoption, amendment, and rejection of the proposed 

plan of government, and we are much obliged to them 

for their diligent researches and ingenious remarks : — 

Others with little ability and less decency, have contin- A persecuting 

ually wounded the feelings of the publick, by railing fuS^b^gome 

against every one who has not subscribed their political writers. 

creed ; which if good in itself, would be rendered odious 

by the persecuting spirit of such ignorant zealots : But 

let them be informed, that their humour and petulance 

are not criterions for regulating the judgment of the 

publick; and that every individual has an equal right 

with themselves, to attend to the greatest of all earthly 

concerns, the establishment of good government, — Even 

the news-papers of Boston have been thus disgraced. 

Boston has been famed for the liberality of its citizens, 

and for their attachment to liberty : And the reputation 

of so respectable a community should not be tarnished 

by illiberal productions. 

In investigating the subject of the proposed constitu- 
tion, let us first inquire, upon what ground it stands: 
Because if it has no foundation^ the superstructure must 

The Federal Convention was first proposed by the Attitude of 
legislature of Virginia, to whom America is much in- ^!J^^Jd*the 
debted for having taken the lead on the most important Constitution, 
occasions. — She first sounded the alarm respecting the 
intended usurpation and tyranny of Great Britain, and 
has now proclaimed the necessity of more power and 
^»^r^ in our federal government : But anxious as that 
wise State is for the attainment of these great objects, 
we find her not precipitate in adopting the new consti- 


tution. She has allowed herself time to consider the 
subject, and has deferred the meeting of her Convention 
until May next — Several other States are of the same 
opinion, amongst which are the respectable States of 
New-York and Maryland. — Is it not then a matter 
worthy of your consideration, whether any disadvan- 
tages can result, nay, whether the greatest advantages 
Adjournment may not accrue from an adjournment of the Convention 
suggeste . ^£ Massachusetts, until the sense of Virginia can be 

known ? Too much light cannot be thrown on the subject^ 

neither can a short delay possibly injure us ; but an hasty 

decision may irretrievably ruin us. 

Massachu- In consequence of the measures of Virginia respect- 

of Feb.^?/^ ^^S ^^ calling a federal Convention, the legislature 

1787, appoint- of this State on the 2ist of February last. Resolved, 

ing lecleral 

delegates. " That five Commissioners be appointed by the General 
Court, who, or any three of whom, are hereby impow- 
ered to meet such commissioners as are or may be ap- 
pointed by the legislatures of the other States in the 
union, at Philadelphia, on the 2d day oi May next; and 
with them to consider the trade and commerce of the 
United States, and how far an uniform system in their 
commercial intercourse and regulations may be neces- 
sary for their common interest and permanent harmony ; 
and also to consider, how far it may be necessary to 
alter any of the articles of the present Confederation, 
so as to render the Constitution of the Federal Govern- 
ment more adequate to the exigencies of the union : 
And what further powers may be necessary to be vested 
in Congress for the common welfare and security, and 
with them to form a report for the purpose — such 
alterations and additions as may be made, to be how- 
ever consistent, with the true republican spirit ^ and genius 
of the present articles of Confederation. Provided that 
the said Commissioners on the part of this Common- 
wealth, are hereby particularly instructed, by no means 


to interfere with the fifth of the articles of the Confeder- Restrictions 
ation, which provides/^ the annual election of delegates ^^ers*^*'^ 
in Congress^ with a power reserved to each State ^ to recalits 
delegates, or any of them ^ within the year, and to send others 
in their stead for the remainder of tlie year — and which 
also provides that no person shall be capable of being a 
delegate for more than three years in any term of six years, 
or being a delegate, shall be capable of holding any office 
under the United States, for which he or any other, for 
his benefit, receives any salary, fees, or emolument of any 
kindy " The report of the said Commissioners from the 
several legislatures to be laid before the United States 
in Congress assembled, to the intent, that if they shall 
judge it proper, they may recommend the said report 
or any part of it to the legislatures of the several 
States for their consideration: And if agreed to by 
them, that the same may become a part of the Con- 
federation of the United States." 

This was the resolution of Massachusetts, in conse- Resolve of 
quence of the proposition of Virginia, but Congress ^endment 
having on the 21st of February, the same day on which thereto, 
this resolution passed, recommended a Federal Conven- 
tion, our Legislature on the 7th of March last, repealed 
that, and passed the following resolve — ** Whereas Con- 
gress did on the 2ist day of February 1787, resolve, 
** That in the opinion of Congress, it is expedient that 
on the second Monday in May next, a Convention 
of Delegates, who shall have been appointed by the 
several States, be held at Philadelphia, for the sole and 
express purpose of revising the articles of Confederation, 
and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures 
such alterations and provisions therein, as shall when 
agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States; 
render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigen- 
cies of government and the preservation of the union 
— And whereas, the legislature of this Commonwealth 


did on the 3d day of the present month, elect the Hon. 
Francis Dana, Elbridge Gerry, Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus 
King, and Caleb Strong, Esquires, delegates, or any 
three of them, to attend and represent this Common- 
wealth at the aforesaid Convention for the sole and ^r- 
press purpose mentioned in the afore recited resolve of 
Congress, Resolved, That his Excellency the Gov- 
ernour be and he hereby is requested to grant to the 
said Francis Dana," &c. '' a commission agreeably to 
the said resolution of Congress." 
Interpretation The first of these resolves will shew that when the 
of these acte. legislature in February last, agreed to a Convention, 

the delegates of the State were to report measures not 
for abolishing but for preserving the articles of Con- 
federation ; for amending them ; and for increasing their 
powers consistently with the true republican spirit and 
genius thereof — that the report was to have been made 
to Congress and that so much of it only as should be 
approved by them, and agreed to by the legislatures of 
the several States, was to become a part of the Confed- 
eration — the last of the resolves will shew, that in March 
last the legislature altered the powers of their delegates 
and conformed them to the resolve of Congress — that 
the utmost extent of this resolve, which united the 
views of Congress and our legislature, was to call a Con- 
vention for the sole and express purpose of revising the 
articles of Confederation, and reporting to Congress and 
the legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein 
as shall render the Federal Constitution adequate to the 
exigencies of government, and the preservation of the 
No violation union — that neither Congress nor the Legislature had 
Confederation the most distant idea of conducting the matter in a 
intended. mode different from that presented by the Confedera- 
tion, which provides " that the articles of Confederation 
shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the 
union shall be perpetual, nor shall any alteration at 


any time hereafter be made in any of thent^ unless such 
alterations be agreed to in a Congress of the United 
States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislature of 
every stated That on the other hand, Congress in their 
resolve, and the legislature in both their resolves before 
recited, expressly provided, and they would have acted 
unconstitutionally to have done otherwise, that the alter- 
ations and provisions in the articles of Confederation, to 
have been reported by the Federal Convention, should 
be agreed to in Congress, and be confirmed by the 
legislative of the several States before they become part 
of the Federal Constitution. 


No. n. 

[Massachusetts Centinel^ January 2, 1788.] 

Honourable Friends j and Fellow Citizens ^ 

It clearly appeared by the resolutions quoted in my Summary of 
last address, that the utmost extent of the views of ^^cnt 
Congress, and of the Legislature of this State in calling 
a Federal Convention, was, that it should revise the 
articles of Confederation, and report such alterations 
and provisions therein, as shall render the Federal 
Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government 
and preservation of the union — that neither Congress 
or the Legislature had the most distant idea of con- 
ducting the matter in a mode different from that pre- 
scribed by the Confederation — but that on the other 
hand, they expressly provided, and would have acted 
unconstitutionally to have done otherwise, that the 
proceedings of the Convention, before they become a 



Powers of 
setts dele- 
gates com- 
pared with 
those of 
other States. 

tion of the 
Union in- 
tended by the 

part of the Federal Constitution, should be agreed to 
by Congress and confirmed by the Legislatures of the 
several states. 

No one I presume will deny that the powers of the 
delegates of this state, were as full and extensive as 
either Congress or any of the Legislatures had authority 
to give — that the powers of the other delegate \sic] 
were in general, more limited — and that had any of 
them been more ample than those of Massachusetts, 
they must have been founded in usurpation and there- 
fore have been null and void. And have the Federal 
Convention, in pursuance of their powers, reported the 
alterations and provisions mentioned in the recited re- 
solve of Congress? If they have, let us call on Con- 
gress, to inform us, whether they have agreed to the 
report, and to transmit it when approved, to the Legis- 
lature for their consideration: This would be conduct- 
ing upon constitutional principles, but the call would be 
vain, there is no such report, and the original design of 
forming the Convention has not been carried into effect. 

The Convention nevertheless have reported a new 
system, and the object of it is, a consolidation of the 
union. Mr. Wilson denies this fact, and says " if this 
was a just objection, it would be strongly against the 
system'' But unfortunately for that gentleman, his 
memory appears to be very defective, for he forgot that 
he has said, in the letter to Congress, signed " George 
Washington, president, by unanimous order of the Con- 
vention " — " In all our deliberations on this subject, we 
kept steadily in our view, that which appears to us the 
greatest interest of every true American, the consolida- 
tion of tlu union'' There the Convention have candidly 
avowed their intentions, and how Mr. Wilson can rec- 
oncile his jarring and contradictory assertions, I am 
at a loss to determine. The Convention, having kept 
" steadily in view " " a consolidation of the union," it is 


incumbent on every one who is zealous for the infalli- 
bility of the Convention, and liberal in abusing those 
who dare to think for themselves, to admit that the 
proposed plan compleatly embraces the object of consoli- 
dation^ for otherwise he will call in question the ability 
of the Convention to execute their design — indeed it 
must be evident to every one who will attentively read 
the new system, that it secures to all intents and pur- 
poses the consolidation intended. And here permit me The new plan 
to remark on an argument, in favour of the new plan, {,^^s^S 
often urged and drawn from the respectable characters n^^ by char- 
of General Washington and Doctor Franklin : Let those framere. 
gentlemen have every honour that can be paid them, 
they are justly entitled to // — but of what consequence 
is it to the publick, whether the members who assented 
or dissented to the new plan, were influenced by virtu- 
ous and disinterested^ or by vicious and selfish motives? 
If the plan is properly before the States, is goody and 
will secure to them " peace, liberty, and safety " should 
it not be adopted, were they even sure that every mem- 
ber who subscribed it was in principle a Caligula or a 
Nero? And if the plan is bad and will entail slavery on 
the land, ought it not to be rejected should every sub- 
scriber excel in wisdom and integrity Lycurgus or 
Solon. Surely the good or bad effects of the system, 
depend not on the characters of the original /ranters^ 
but on the system itself, and on those who may admin- 
ister it ; and no man of candour and discernment will 
urge characters, as an argument for or against this 
system, however respectable the characters of any 
particular members, or of the members in general of 
the federal convention, may be: They had no other Delegates ex- 
authority to act in this matter, than what was derived aShority.^^ 
from their commissions — when they ceased to act in 
conformity thereto, they ceased to be a federal conven- 
tion, and had no more right to propose to the United 


States the new form of government, than an equal num- 
ber of other gentlemen, who might voluntarily have 
assembled for this purpose. The members of the Con- 
vention therefore, admitting they have the merit of a 
work of supererogation, have thereby inferred no kind 
of obligation on the States to consider^ much less to 
adopt this plan of consolidation. The consolidation of 
the union ! What a question is this, to be taken up and 
decided by thirty nine gentlemen^ who had no publick 
authority whatever for discussing it! — To be submitted 
to the people at large, before it has been considered or 
even agitated by Congress, or any of the Legislatures, 
and to be transmitted with such precipitation to the 
States merely " for their assent and ratification "? True 
it is, that neither Congress or the Legislatures could 
decide this great question ; the first are restrained by 
the confederation, and the last by the federal and state 
constitutions — but Congress and the Legislatures, if 
they thought it necessary, might at any time have 
considered the subject, expressed their sentiments on 
it, and recommended to the people an election of State 
conventions to have taken up the matter. Had this 
been done the important question would have been 
previously canvassed ; and understood by Congress and 
the Legislatures ; and explained to the people ; and the 
publick opinion would have been thus united in some 
salutary measure — but as the matter has been con- 
ducted, a system of consolidation has been formed with 
the most profound secrecy^ and without the least aut/tor- 
Action of ity: And has been suddenly and without any previous 
Coneress, the fiQfice transmitted by the federal convention for ratifi- 


and the cation — Congress not disposed to give any opinion on the 

uuScLave* plan, have trammitted it to the legislatures — The legis- 

of approval, latures have followed the example, and sent it to the 

people. The people of this State, unassisted by Congress 

or their legislature, have not had time to investigate the 


subject, have referred to the news-papers for informa- 
tion, have been divided by contending writers, and 
under such circumstances have elected members for 
the State Convention — and these members are to con- 
sider whether they ^will accept the plan of the federal 
convention, with all its imperfections^ and bind the 
people by a system of government^ of the nature and 
principles of which they have not at present a clearer 
idea, than they have of the Copernican system. 

What are we to expect, from such a mode of pro- 
ceeding? Are not the people already thrown into 
great confusion? Are not heats, animosities, and a 
party spirit very prevalent and daily increasing? Are 
the citizens of this State in a proper temper to receive 
information, either of the ratification, or rejection of 
the new Constitution? Is there a probability of its Prioramend- 
being supported, if so precipitately adopted? Surely it JJSyVope 
must appear that the plan, although improperly before for safety. 
the State, cannot with safety be rejected — that it cannot 
as it stands, be safely accepted — that the people will 
not be satisfied with a ratification, and the delusive pros- 
pect of future alterations — and that the only hope that 
remains of preserving the peace and happiness of this 
Commonwealth, is from amending the plan in order to 
its adoption, 


No. III. 

\MassachusetU CentimU January 9, 1788.] 

In the preceding numbers it has been shewn, that the Summary of 
original design of calling the federal convention has ^^^m^t 
not been carried into effect — That they nevertheless 
reported a system of government with a professed 



of the issue. 

of Federal 

intention of consolidating the union — That they had 
not the least publick authority to discuss, much less to 
decide this great question — That neither Congress or 
the Legislatures have been disposed to express any 
opinion on the new system — That although they were 
constitutionally restrained from deciding, yet they had 
a right at any time, to have agitated and considered the 
question, to have explained it to the people, and to 
have recommended their electing State Conventions to 
have taken up the matter — That had this been done, the 
people would have had every necessary information, 
and probably have united in some salutary measure — 
That they are now without that information, and by the 
mode of conducting this matter, are thrown into great 
confusion — That a party spirit prevails, and is daily 
increasing — That in the present temper of the people, 
it will not restore peace or tranquility to reject the 
system, or to ratify it with or without the delusive 
prospect of future alterations — That if accepted in its 
present form, there is not a probability of supporting it 
— and that amendments are indispensibly necessary, 
in order to its adoption. — These are facts which if 
any one doubts, will I think, clearly appear when we 
consider the system itself. 

The revolution which separated the United States 
from Great-Britain, was not more important to the lib- 
erties of America, than that which will result from the 
adoption of the new system. The former freed us from 
di foreign subjugation^ and there is too much reason to 
apprehend that the latter will reduce us to a federal 
domination. Had the Convention thought proper merely 
to have formed the plan, and to have sent it to Con- 
gress, and the legislatures, the consequences would not 
have been so serious, as from their accompanying it 
with the following resolutions. — " Resolved^ That the 
preceding Constitution be laid before the United States 


in Congress assembled, and that it is the opinion of 
this Convention, that it should afterwards be submitted 
to a Convention of Delegates chosen in each state by 
the PEOPLE thereof, under the recommendation of its 
legislature, for their assent and ratification^ and that each 
Convention, assenting to and ratifying the same, should 
give notice thereof to the United States in Congress 
assembled." " Resolved^ That it is the opinion of the 
Convention, that as soon as the Conventions of nine 
States shall have ratified the Constitution, the United 
States in Congress assembled shall fix a day on which 
electors should be appointed by the States which shall 
have ratified the same, and a day on which the electors 
should assemble to vote for the President, and the time 
and place for commencing proceedings under this Consti- 
tution : That after such publication, the electors should be 
appointed, and the Senators and Representatives elected : 
That the electors should meet on the day fixed for the 
election of the President; and should transmit their 
votes, certified, signed, sealed and directed, as the Con- 
stitution requires, to the secretary of the United States 
in Congress assembled, that the Senators and Repre- 
sentatives should convene at the time and place as- 
signed — That the Senators should appoint a President 
of the Senate, for the sole purpose of receiving, open- 
ing and counting the votes for President, and that after 
he shall be chosen, the Congress together with the 
President, should without delay, proceed to execute this 
Constitution^ In consequence of these resolutions of Resolve of 
the federal convention, Congress ^^ Resolved^ That the ^o^^r^t*'* 
Constitution so reported be transmitted to the several thereto; 
legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention 
of Delegates, chosen in each State by the people there- 
of, in conformity to the resolves of the said Convention 
in that case tnade and provided^* — and in pursuance and of the 
thereof, the legislature of this State resolved, " That it lature. 


be, and it is hereby recommended to the people of this 
Commonwealth, that a Convention of Delegates be 
chosen agreeably to and for the purposes mentioned in 
the resolution of Congress aforesaid. — It is evident, 
therefore, that the proposed Constitution is, agreeably 
to the recommendation of the federal Convention, sub- 
mitted to the State Convention, that is, to a majority of 
its members, for their assent and ratification. Should 
Result of the plan be adopted by this and eight other States, 
M^^^s^hu^^ ^z/^ry part of the Constitution of this Commonwealth 
setts and which is contrary to the new Constitution^ to the laws 
States. ^\ that may be made in pursuance thereof or to treaties of 
the United States, will be null and void : for the plan 
expressly provides, that " this Constitution, and the 
laws of the United States, which shall be made in pur- 
suance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall 
be made under the authority of the United States, shall 
be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every 
State shall be bound thereby, any thing in tlie Constitu- 
tion or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstand- 
ing** — And will not such a subjection of the Constitu- 
tion of this Commonwealth, not only to the Constitution, 
but to the laws of the union, and to treaties, that are or 
may be made under the authority of Congress, be in 
effect, a dissolution of the government of Mas- 
sachusetts? Surely it will. Mr. Locke, in his trea- 
tise of civil government, chap. 19, in sect. 212, says, 
" Governments are dissolved from within, when the 
legislative is altered," and in sect. 215, **for it is not 
a certain number of men, no, nor their meeting, unless 
they have also freedom of debating, and leisure of 
perfecting, what is for the good of the society, wherein 
the legislative consists : when these are taken away, or 
altered, so as to deprive the society of the due exercise 
of this^power, the legislative is truly altered; for it is not 
names that constitute governments, but the use and exercise 


of those powers that were intended to accompany thent^ 
What were the powers originally intended by the people 
of this State to be used and exercised by their legislature ; 
they are contained in the Constitution of the Common- 
wealth, part 2, c/tap. i, sect i, under the head of "the 
legislative power," qualified nevertheless by certain 
reservations in the Bill of Rights. Some of the most 
important of those powers will, by the new plan, be 
transferred to the federal government, and others be 
exercised by their permission. This, I presume, is too 
evident to be denied, and will hereafter more fully 
appear. Our government will then have the name that 
it now has, but not " the use and exercise of those 
powers that were intended to accompany it" Indeed, 
it is inconceivable, that a plan of consolidation can be 
established, without destroying the sovereignty of the 
respective States, and thus dissolving their present 

But supposing the adoption of the new plan would only Mode of 
alter the Constitution of this State, by what mode should ^crib^* 
that alteration be made? Should it be effected pursuant PX Massa- 
to the recommendation of a federal Convention, and in Constitution, 
direct violation of the Constitution of this State? or 
should the alteration be made consistently with the 
Constitution itself? This expressly provides, " That, in 
order the more effectually to adhere to the principles 
of the Constitution, and to correct those violations which 
by any means may be made therein, as well as to form 
such alterations as from experience shall be found 
necessary, the General Court, which shall 'be in the year 
of our Lord 1795, shall issue precepts to the selectmen 
of the several towns, and to the assessors of the unin- 
corporated plantations, directing them to convene the 
qualified voters of their respective towns and plantations 
for the purpose of collecting their sentiments on the 
necessity or expediency of revising the Constitution^ in 


order to amendments: And if it shall appear by the 
returns made, that two thirds of the qualified voters 
throughout the State, who shall assemble and vote in 
consequence of the said precepts, are in favour of such 
revision or amendment, the General Court shall issue 
precepts, or direct them to be issued, from the sec- 
retary's office to the several towns to elect delegates to 
meet in Convention, for the purpose aforesaid : The 
said delegates to be chosen in the same manner and 
proportion as their representatives," &c. — Here we see, 
that by the Constitution of this State in the year 1795, 
the sentiments of the qualified voters on the necessity 
or expediency of revising the Constitution, are to be 
collected, and if it shall then appear that two thirds of 
them are in favour of a revision and amendment^ in that 
case only, is a Convention to be called for these pur- 
poses. Should it be a question, whether an alteration 
in the Constitution can be made before the year 1795, 
there is nothing in the clause recited, that I can con- 
ceive to prevent it: because although in the year 1795, 
precepts must issue for the purposes mentioned, there 
is no provision to prevent their issuing, if necessary, 
before that period. But surely, if any alteration should 
be made in the Constitution, it must be in a mode pro- 
vided by the Constitution itself for otherwise the clause 
recited must become a nullity ^ which is inadmissible, or, 
which is the same thing, the Constitution itself must be 
Danger from Of all compacts, a Constitution or frame of Govern- 
ShutioM? °"' ment, is the most solemn and important, and should be 

strictly adhered to. The object of it is the preservation 
of that property, which every individual of the com- 
munity has, in his ///>, liberty and estate: Every 
measure therefore, that only approaches to an infraction 
of such a covenant ought to be avoided, because it will 
injure that sacred regard to the Constitution which 


should be deeply impressed on the minds of the whole 
community — How much more careful then should we 
be to avoid an open violation of such a compact? Such 
a violation must take place, if a majority, or every 
member of the Convention, should vote for an accept- 
ance of the new Constitution, because a Convention can- 
not be called for altering^ much less dissolving the 
government of Massachusetts, before the sentiments of 
the qualified voters are collected on the necessity or 
expediency of revising the Constitution in order to 
amendment^ and two thirds of them shall be in favour of 
the measure. A ratification, therefore, of the new Con- Ratification 
stitution by the State Convention, cannot be binding on Se^ti^ns 
the citizens of this State, being directly repugnant to o^ ^^ State, 
an existing covenant. But suppose such a ratification 
should be supported by a majority of the Convention 
and of the citizens of this State : What must be the 
consequence of thus destroying all publick faith and 
confidence? Are not these the principles that bind 
and cement the community, and that establish them 
as a body politick? Are they not the foundation of a 
free Government? If every individual by such a meas- 
ure, should have his faith and confidence in the honour 
and integrity of the community effectually destroyed, 
(and this must inevitably be the consequence) will he 
not decline entering into such a nugatory compact in 
future, or entering into it, will he not disregard it as 
a mere matter of form, and rather than be at any 
pains or expense to support it, suffer it to share the 
fate of the other? Certainly he will, and instead of a 
government founded in compact, we must hereafter be 
content with one founded in fraud or force. 



No. IV. 

[Massachusetts Centinely January 12, 1788.] 

Mode of Every candid mind will by this time I think be 

provwS^by clearly convinced, that if the constitution of this Com- 
Artidesof monwealth has any validity^ the ratification of a plan 
' that would altety much less of one that would dissolve 
the government^ cannot be valid, unless by a mode pro- 
vided by the Constitution itself. There are but two 
modes, to my knowledge, wherein any alterations can 
be made: One has been mentioned, and it has been 
fully shewn that the ratification of the new Constitution 
by the state Convention would be in direct violation of 
that mode, and therefore not binding on the citizens of 
this State. — Let us now consider the other mode. In 
addition to the political compact contained in the Con- 
stitution of this State, it is bound by another as solemn 
and more extensive y the articles of Confederation, By the 
firsts the "whole people covenants with each citizen, 
and each citizen with the whole people : " and by the 
last, the whole of the States covenants with each State ^ and 
each State with the whole of the States. And the powers 
in the articles of Confederation, expressly delegated to 
the United States in Congress assembled, are /^ra/^t?!^;;/ 
to and annul every power of the State Constitution, that 
is inconsistent with and opposed to them. A mode is 
provided in the Confederation for amending it, in the 
words following, " and the articles of this Confederation 
• shall be inviolably observed by every State of the union, 
shall be perpetual nor shall any alteration at any time 
hereafter be made in any of them unless such alterations 
be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be 
afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State** 
A correspondent provision is made in the fourth article 
of the Bill of Rights of our State Constitution — (vide 


Constitution of Massachusetts) the exercise then of every 
power, jurisdiction and right, which is or may hereafter 
be by the people thus expressly delegated, is clearly 
relinquished on their part and will be binding on them. 
Had the federal Convention reported and Congress 
agreed to alterations in the articles of Confederation, 
there could I think have been no doubt, that the ratifica- 
tion of such alterations by the legislatures would have 
been as binding on tJte people as if made by t/iemselves^ 
because in the article mentioned of the bill of rights the 
people have recognized the articles of Confederation, 
which on the part of the State were ratified, pursuant to 
their authority : And have expressly provided by those 
articles, that alterations therein which shall be agreed to 
by Congress, and confirmed by the legislatures, shall be- 
come part thereof : The legislature nevertheless of 
this State, would probably have applied to the people 
for their sense on such alterations, before a confirmation 
thereof, but no one will pretend to say that the federal 
Convention have reported alterations, or if they had, 
that Congress have agreed to, or the the \sic\ legislature 
confirmed them. The federal Convention, have, as has 
been shewn, reported a system, which destroys the 
articles of Confederation, and completely embraces the 
consolidation of the union: They have also recom- 
mended, that this new system should be administered, 
when ratified by nine States, and it must clearly appear, 
that the ratification of it by the Convention of this State, Ratificationof 
would not only be a violation of the State Constitution, consSu^n^ 
biU also of the articles of Confederation — would thus be ^^ a viola- 
a double act of political perfidy — and would not be Articles. 
binding on any State, not even on those which may thus 
ratify it. Such a measure, therefore, would not only 
tear up by the roots, and annihilate all confidence in the 
most sacred and solemn covenants between the whole 
people and each citisen of this State, but also between 



Sir WiUiam 
Temple on 
innovations in 

Mode of 
paves the 
way for 

the whole of the States and each State, and the new Con- 
stitution would not stand on the ground of right, good 
faith, or publick confidence. Notwithstanding then the 
good intentions of the federal Convention, it is an un- 
fortunate circumstance that they did not strictly adhere 
to their powers, because the mode proposed for ratifica- 
tion, as well as the system itself, must produce great 
convulsions. Sir William Temple, in treating " of popu- 
lar discontents," says, ** The first safety of Princes and 
States lies in avoiding all councils or designs of innova- 
tion in ancient and established forms, and laws, especially 
those concerning liberty, property and religion (which are 
the possessions men will ever have most at heart) and 
thereby leaving the channel of honour and common jus- 
tice clear and undisturbed." The new system was not 
only unauthorized, but altogether unexpected by Con- 
gress, the legislature, and the people, is not merely an 
innovation, but an interchange [entire change?] of the 
** established form " of government ; and will produce as 
great a change in the laws concerning liberty and prop- 
erty — does not only disturb, and in some instances 
alter but in others destroys the channels of honour and 
common justice — and so far is the mode of adoption 
from being constitutional, as that it violates the Consti- 
tutions of the States and of the union, and establishes a 
precedent, not only for annihilating the new Constitution 
itself, but for building on its ruins a compleat system of 
despotism — for what will the people have to secure them 
against an introduction of the most arbitrary government, 
after the banishment of good faith from the United States 
of America? Is it not incumbent then on the State Con- 
vention, to consider seriously and thoroughly, in what a 
situation they will place this Commonwealth and the 
union, by the proposed ratification? This State, before 
it shall have declared in favour of the new system as it 
stands, may have great influence in promoting an accom- 


modation of this matter, between contending States, and 
the contending citizens of each State, and having the 
confidence of all parties, may as a wise mediatrix, pro- 
mote their common interest: But when the State shall 
have manifested such a total disregard to the obliga- 
tions of the most solemn political compacts, as to ratify 
in the mode proposed, the new Constitution, then will 
end the confidence of the union, and of our own citizens 
in the decision of Massachusetts, and she will embark 
in a precarious bottom, with the gloomy prospect of an 
approaching tempest, and unnecessarily expose herself 
to a political shipwreck. — If then, the new Constitution, 
ratified in its present form and in the mode proposed, 
will not stand on the ground of rights goodfaith^ or pub- 
lick confidence^ on what ground will it stand? Mr. Lock Locke on 
[«V], in his treatise mentioned, chap. 17, sect. 197, says, ^dTranny. 
" as conquest may be called a foreign usurpation, so 
usurpation is a kind of domestick conquest, with this 
difference, that an usurper can never have a right on his 
side, it being no usurpation but when one has got into 
the possession of what another has a right to." The right 
of originating a system for consolidating the union, 
belonged only to the people, but the federal Convention 
have taken possession of it, when called for a different 
purpose, and can any one say their proceedings are not 
founded in usurpation? The same author goes on, 
** this, so far as it is usurpation, is a change only of per- 
sons, but not oi^^ forms and rules of the government: 
For if the usurper extend his power beyond what of 
right belonged to the lawful prince, or governour of the 
Commonwealth, it is tyranny added to usurpation'^ 
Had the federal Convention then only exercised the 
powers of the people in originating a system of consoli- 
dation, it would have been nothing more than usur- 
pation; but having changed the fortns and rules of 
delegating powers to the federal government, the Con- 



Frameis of 
the Constitu- 
tion guilty 
of both. 


Many objec- 
tions to the 
new system 

vention have done what the governours or rulers of the 
Commonwealth had no right to do, and by promoting 
State Conventions to violate the most solemn compacts, 
have also done what the people themselves had no right 
to do, and as the principles and reasonings of the above 
celebrated writer apply more forcibly to the alteration 
oxformatiofti than to the administration of government, 
are not the proceedings of the Convention, founded not 
only in usurpation, but also in tyranny? 

To what purpose then is it, to raise this mighty 
superstructure, which having no foundation, must soon 
fall and involve those in it in inevitable ruin — the 
federal Convention were undoubtedly urged to these 
measures by conceiving, that their system, if well 
adapted to the welfare of the people, would nevertheless 
meet with opposition from some of the States, and be 
thus defeated : But did not an honest zeal lead the 
Convention, as it has often led others if to a remedy 
worse than the disease? Should not a proper system 
have been sent in a constitutional mode to the States, 
with a presumption that every State would do what 
was for the good of the whole; and if any of them 
had withheld their assent from a measure requisite for 
the general welfare, and thus rendered a separation 
necessary ; should // not have been preceded by a dec- 
laration, stating the reasons and necessity of such a 
separation? Surely such a dismemberment will re- 
quire as much solemnity as that which separated us 
from Great-Britain, and may produce as important 

Many great objections to the new system have been 
unanswered, and I conceive, if we mean to support our 
liberties, are unanswerable. Notwithstanding which the 
State Convention will in all probability be warmly 
urged to accept the system, and at the same time to 
propose amendments — this indeed may take in the 


weak and unwary, but not persons of discernment : For 
a wise people will never place over themselves an 
arbitrary government, in expectation that it will be so 
remarkably virtuous as to divest itself of unreasonable 
and unlimitted powers. Is not this contrary to human 
nature, which is generally grasping at more power, not 
knowing oftentimes that it would be abused as soon as 

The new Constitution provides "that the Congress Modes of 
whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it ^wdS^* 
necessary shall propose amendments to this Constitu- 
tion, or on the application of the legislatures of two tliirds 
of the several States, shall call a convention for propos- 
ing amendments, which in either case shall be valid to 
all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when 
ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the 
several States, or by Conventions in three fourths 
thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification 
may be proposed by the Congress : " — To call a Con- 
vention then, two thirds of both houses of the new 
Congress must deem it necessary, or the legislatures of 
two thirds of the several States must make an applica- 
tion to Congress ; and can it be doubted that there will 
not be found such a majority of the new Congress, or 
of the State legislatures disposed to call a Convention 
for making amendments? When the Constitution is 
adopted, will not the friends of it strenuously contend 
to give it a trial? Are there not numbers who at this 
time openly reprobate republican governments? And 
will not such persons raise numberless objections to 
the appointment of such a Convention, and endeavour 
to prevent it? But supposing a Convention should be 
called, what are we to expect from it, after having rat- 
ified the proceedings of the late federal Convention? 
They will be called to make " amendments ^^^ an indefinite 
term, that may be made to signify any thing. Should 


Judge M'Kean, be of the new Convention, perhaps he 
will think a system of despotism, an amendment to the 
present plan, and should the next change be only to a 
monarchial government, the people may think them- 
selves very happy, for bcul as the new system is, it is 
the best they will ever have should they now adopt it. 
If therefore, it is the intention of the Convention of this 
State to preserve republican principles in the federal 
government, they must accomplish it before^ for they 
never can expect to effect it after a ratification of the 
new system, 


No. V. 

[Massachusetts Centinely January 19, 1788.] 

The proceedings of the federal Convention, having, 
as has been shewn, originated in usurpation, and being 
founded in tyranny, cannot be ratified by the State Con- 
vention, without breaking down the barriers of liberty ; 
trampling on the authority of federal and State Constitu- 
tions , and annihilating in America ^ governments foutided 
Two courses in compact. In this predicament, there appears but 
ioumment^m *^^ measures which can with safety be adopted by the 
action of Convention of this State. One has been hinted at, an 
isk^own; adjournment y until the sense of Virginia can be known. 

The great danger in this business is, from precipitation^ 
not from delay. The latter cannot injure whilst the 
former may irretrievably ruin us ; an adjournment would 
not only ripen the judgment of our own citizens, but 
give them an opportunity of benefiting by the opinions 
of those States, which are attentive to, but not extrava-^ 
gantly zealous in this matter. The other measure is, to 
return the proceedings of the federal Convention to the 


legislature of this State, to be by them transmitted to (2) return of 
Congress, and amended agreeably to the articles of Con- pj^^o^ 
federation: For the system being improperly before Congress for 
the State Convention, and they being incompetent to a 
ratification of it, cannot thereby bind the citizens of 
Massachusetts. Had the system been in itself unob- 
jectionable, it is evident from what has been said, that 
the sentiments of the qualified voters on the necessity of 
a revision, must have been taken, and two thirds of them 
must have been in favour of it, before a State Conven- 
tion could be called for amending the Constitution, 
much more for dissolving the government 

Let us once more particularly attend to the system New system 
itself. It begins, " We the People of the United States, ^^^tism. 
in order to form a more perfect union," &c. " do ordain 
and establish this Constitution for the United States of 
America" — In other words. We the people do hereby pub- 
lickly declare the violation of the faith which we have 
solemnly pledged to each other — do give the most unequiv- 
ocal evidence^ that we cannot ourselves^ neither can any 
others^ place the least confidence in our most solemn cove- 
nantSy do effectually put cm end in America ^ to governments 
founded in compact — do relinquish that security for life^ 
liberty and property ^ which we had in the Constitutions 
of these States, and of the Union — do give up govern- 
ments which we well understood, for a new system which 
we have no idea of — and we do, by this act of ratification 
and political suicide, destroy the new system itself, and 
prepare the way for a despotism, if agreeable to our rulers. 
All this we do, for the honour of having a system of con- 
solidation formed by us the people. This is not mag- 
nifying, for such are the facts, and such will be the 
consequences. Indeed we find despotism not only in 
contemplation of the Pennsylvanians, but openly avowed 
in their State Convention, in the words following — 
** Despotism, if wisely administered, is the best system 



Attempts to 
of State 

invented by the ingenuit>' of man." This was declared 
by chief justice M'Kean ; and in such an high office, 
we must suppose him a man of too much precaution 
to have made the declaration, had he not known, that 
a majority of the Convention, and of the citizens, who 
so highly applauded his speeches, were of his opinion. 
M. Montesquieu, in his " Spirit of Laws," ist vol. book 3, 
chap. 9, says, " As virtue is necessary in a rcpublick^ and 
honour in a monarchy^ so fear is necessary in a despotick 
government : With regard to virtue^ there is no occa- 
sion for it, and honour would be extremely dangerous." 
Thus has a declaration been made in Pennsylvania, in 
favour of a government which substitutes fear for wr- 
tue^ and reduces mtnfrom rational beings to the level 
of brutes ; and if the citizens of Massachusetts are dis- 
posed to follow the example, and submit tlieir necks to 
tlu yokcy they must expect to be governed by the whip 
and goad. But it is remarkable, that the resolution 
of the Federal Convention, for transmitting the system 
to the people, provided, '' that the Constitution should 
be laid before the United States in Congress assembled^ 
and afterwards submitted to a Convention of Delegates, 
chosen in each State by the people thereof, under the 
recommendation of its legislature ; thus making Con- 
gress and the legislatures, ^vehicles of conveyance^ but 
precluding them from passing their judgments on the 
system. Had it been submitted to their consideration, 
their members were men of such discernment, that the 
defects as well as excellencies of the plan, would have 
been clearly explained to the people ; but immediately 
on the publication of it, we find measures were taken 
to prejudice the people against all persons in the legis- 
lative, executive and judicial departments of the States 
and Confederacy (if opposed to the plan) as being 
actuated by motives of private interest. Mr. Wilson, 
a member of the federal and Pennsylvanian Conven- 


tion, in his town meeting speech, adopted this practice, 
which, to say the least of it, was very illiberaL Indeed, 
it is but justice to observe, that many artful advocates 
of this plan, to cover their designs of creating a gov- 
ernment which will afford abundance of legislative 
offices for placemen and pensioners^ proclaimed suspicions 
of others, and diverted the attention of the people from 
themselves, on whom the odium should fall. 

Let us now proceed to the provision in the system for a Provisions 
representation of the people, which is the comer stone of senuSon. 
a free government. The Constitution provides, art. ist, 
sect 2, *' that representatives and direct taxes shall be 
apportioned among the several States, which may be in- 
cluded within this union, according to their respective 
numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the 
whole number of free persons, including those bound to 
service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not 
taxed, three fifths of all other persons." Representa- Representap 
tives " then are to be apportioned among the several ^^"^ * ^^ 
States, according to their respective numbers," and five 
slaves, in computing those numbers, are to be classed 
with three freemen — By which rule, fifty thousand 
slaves, having neither liberty or property^ will have a rep- 
resentative in that branch of the legislature — to which 
more especially will be committed, the protection of the 
liberties, and disposal of all the property of the freemen 
of the Union — for thus stands the new Constitution. 
Should it be said, that not the slaves but their masters 
are to send a representative, the answer is plain — If the 
slaves have a right to be represented, they are on a 
footing with freemen^ three of whom can then have no 
more than an equal right of representation with three 
[5/V] slaves, and these when qualified by property, may 
elect or be elected representatives, which is not the case : 
But if they have not a right to be represented, their 
masters can have no right derived from their slaves^ for 


tliese cannot transfer to others what they have not them- 
selves. Mr. Locke, in treating of political or civil socie- 
ties, chap. 7, sect. 85, says, that men " being in the state 
of slavery, not capable of any property, cannot in that 
state, be considered as any part of civil society, the 
chief end whereof, is the preservation of property." If 
slaves, then, are no part of civil society, there can be no 
more reason in admitting them, than there would be in 
admitting the beasts of the field, or trees of the forest, 
to be classed with free electors. What covenant are the 
Its dangers, freemen of Massachusetts about to ratify? A covenant 

that will degrade them to the level of slaves ^ and give to 
the States who have as many blacks as whites, eight rep- 
resentatives, for the same number of freemen as will en- 
able this State to elect y?z/^ — Is this an equals a safe^ or 
a righteous plan of government? Indeed it is not. But 
if to encrease these objections, it should be urged, " that 
representation being regulated by the same rule as 
taxation, and taxation being regulated by a rule in- 
tended to ascertain the relative property of the States, 
representation will then be regulated by the principle 
of property," This answer would be the only one that 
could be made, for representation, according to the 
new Constitution is to be regulated, either by numbers 
or property. 
Property as a Let US now inquire of those who take this ground, 
sentation?^^^ what right they have to put a construction on the con- 
stitution, which is repugnant to the express terms of 
the Constitution itself? This provides, " that represen- 
tatives shall be apportioned among the several States, 
according to their respective numbers^ Not a word of 
property is mentioned, but the word " numbers " is re- 
peatedly expressed — Admitting however that property 
was intended by the Constitution as the rule of repre- 
sentation, does this mend the matter? it will be but a 
short time, after the adoption of the new Constitution, 


before the State legislatures^ and establishments in gen^ 
eral will be so burthensome and useless as to make the 
people desirous of being rid of them, for they will not 
be able to support them. The State appointment of 
Representatives will then cease, but the principle ofrep^ 
rcsentation according to property^ will undoubtedly be 
retained, and before it is established it is necessary to 
consider whether it is a just one^ for if once it is adopted 
it will not be easily altered, — According to this principle, 
a man worth ;£50,ooo, is to have as many votes for 
representatives in the new Congress, as one thousand 
men, worth ;£50 each : And sixty stuh nabobs may send 
two representatives, while sixty thousand freemen hav- 
ing ;^50 each can only send the same number. Does 
not this establish in the representative branch of the 
new Congress, a principle of aristocracy with a ven- 
geance? The Constitution \sic\ of the several States, 
admit of no such principle, neither can any freeman with 
safety thus surrender, not only the intire disposition 
of their property, but also, the controul of their liber- 
ties and lives to a few opulent citizens. Should It 
be said that the rule of federal taxation, being advan- 
tageous to the State, it should be content with the 
same rule for representation. The answer is plain, Its effect 
the rule gives no advantage, but is supposed to be ^^^^^ 
advantageous to Massachusetts, and to be an accom- 
modation very beneficial to the southern States: But 
admiting this State will be benefited by the rule, is 
it disposed to sell its birthright, the right of an equal 
representation in the federal councils /or so small a con* 
sideration ? Would this State give up that right to any 
State that would pay our whole proportion of direct and 
indirect taxes t Shall we relinquish some of the most 
essential rights of government, which are our only se- 
curity for every thing dear to us, to avoid our propor- 
tion of the publick expense, shall we give up all we 



have, for a small part of it? This if agreed to would 

be no great evidence of our wisdom or foresight But 

it is not probable, in the opinion of some of the ablest 

Levy of direct advocates for the new system, that direct taxes will ever 

proSibie! ^^ levied on the States, and if not, the provision for 

levying such taxes will be nugatory : We shall receive 
no kind of benefit from it, and shall have committed 
ourselves to the mercy of the states having slaves, 
without any consideration whatever. Indeed, should 
direct taxes be necessary, shall we not by increasing 
the representation of those States, put it in their power 
to prevent the levying such taxes, and thus defeat 
our own purposes? Certainly we shall, and having 
given up a substantial and essential right, shall in lieu 
of it, have a mere visionary advantage. Upon the 
whole then, it must be evident, that we might as well 
have committed ourselves to the parliament of Great- 
Britain, under the idea of a virtual representation as in 
this manner resign ourselves to the federal government. 


Party spirit 
in the State 

No. VI. 

{Massachusetts Centinel^ January 30, 1788.] 

Whoever has attended the debates of the Conven- 
tion, must already be convinced, that the magnitude 
of the object, and the anxiety of the members, whether 
for or against the system as it stands, has produced a 
party spirit which augurs no good. It has now become 
a struggle for conquest ; rather than for conviction : And 
great as the characters are which compose the Conven- 
tion, their talents are more employed to make proselytes 
in favour or against than to investigate precisely and 


explain clearly the merits and demerits of the proposed 
Constitution. It must likewise appear, that so many 
able and eloquent speakers as there are in favour of it, 
from the supreme executive, judicial and legislative de- 
partments, as well as from the bar, desk, medical and 
military professions, that there is not a prospect of 
doing justice to the objections against the plan. 
Should it, therefore, in this state of affairs, be carried by 
a small majority, what must be the consequences? 
They are too apparent, and too ruinous to contemplate, 
and every one is left to form his idea of them. The Adjournment 
same would probably be the effect of a negative, and ^^^^ ^^^ ' 
the farther we proceed in this business, the more evident 
is it, that an adjournment until the sense of Virginia and 
other States can be known, is not only proper, but in- 
dispensibly necessary for the peace and welfare of this 
State. — To persuade the people that this system will 
produce advantages which will never flow from it, or to 
conceal from them the burthen and coercion that will re- 
sult from it, will be impolitick in the extreme, for the 
deception must appear as soon as the plan is adminis- 
tered, and the new administration itself will be over- 
whelmed, and all federal government be prostrated by 
an enraged and disappointed people. I am sensible 
that many worthy men are for adopting this plan, not 
because they approve of it, but from an idea that we shall 
never obtain another ; but what reason is there for this 
apprehension? The whole Continent are desirous of an 
efficient federal government — The first constitution 
proposed to the people of Massachusetts was rejected 
by them ; it originated improperly as this did, and if it 
had not, it was not a good one. The people therefore 
made a second attempt, and succeeded in it ; and is 
there not the same reason to hope for success in the 
present case? Or if we fail, that the attempt will prob- 
ably make us unanimous in adopting this system? But 



of argument 
as to repre- 

is it not extraordinary, that a Constitution should be 
proposed by gentlemen, who had no authority what- 
ever to form it — that they should dissolve themselves 
without knowing the objections of the people, and that 
the latter should now be told, they must take this or 
have none? This may be language adapted to slaves, 
but not to freemen. 

By my last, I think it must fully appear, that the ap- 
portionment of representatives by the new system, is to 
be either according to numbers or property — If accord- 
ing to numbers, that we are to commit ourselves by an 
unequal representation to the States who are peo- 
pled in a great measure with slaves, and if according 
to property that we are to adopt in our representa- 
tive branch the most extraordinary principle for estab- 
lishing an aristocracy, that ever was imposed on a free 
people. The Constitution further provides, that "the 
actual enumeration shall be made within three years 
after the first meeting of the Congress of the United 
States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, 
in such manner as they shall by law direct." The 
whole number of freemen and slaves at this time, 
according to the best information, is about two millions 
seven hundred thousand, of which six hundred thou- 
sand at least are slaves — two millions one hundred 
thousand freemen then, and three hundred and sixty 
thousand, being three fifths of the slaves, will make the 
present enumeration two millions four hundred and 
sixty thousand. If we suppose (what considering the 
continual emigrations from the old to the new States 
cannot be admitted) that in every twenty years we shall 
double our numbers, at the end of three years the enu- 
meration will be two millions eight hundred and twenty- 
nine thousand, and what is to be done with this 
enumeration? The Constitution in the next paragraph 
provides, that " the number of representatives shall not 


exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each State 
shall have at least one representative, and until such 
enumeration shall be made, New-Hampshire shall be 
intitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight," &c. &c. 
The people then are called upon to ratify a Constitu- limitation 
tion, which provides that they shall never have above ^repre^' 
one representative for thirty thousand inhabitants, with- sentatives. 
out providing that they shall have one for that number: 
This clause, whilst it restrains the new government from 
allowing more than one representative to the number 
mentioned, authorizes it by making the rule of appor- 
tionment one or two hundred thousand inhabitants for 
each representative, to reduce their number to twenty- 
eight or even to fourteen. This is so clear, that the 
warmest advocate for the new system will risque his 
reputation for candour by denying it. If there was 
no discretionary power intended to be lodged in the 
new Congress, to reduce the number of representatives 
lower than one for every thirty thousand inhabitants, it 
would have been provided, that ** the number of repre- 
sentatives " shall be at least one for every thirty thou- 
sand ; and not as it now stands, '' that it shall not 
exceed one" for that number. It may be said, perhaps, 
that the increase of the inhabitants will be such here- 
after as that it will be necessary for Congress to have 
the power to make the rule of apportionment higher 
than thirty thousand ; but why then was it not provided, 
that the people should be allowed one representative 
for every thirty thousand, until the representation 
amounted to a certain number? Even two hundred 
representatives for a legislature, invested as this is to 
be, with almost unlimited powers, over the lives, liber- 
ties and property of the citizens of these States, is not 
too much at this early period : — Why should we then, 
having but sixty-five representatives, intrust Congress 

with a power to reduce this to a much less number? 


1 62 


Power to 
reduce the 
number of 

tion already 
too smalL 

Perhaps it will be said, there is only a possibility of this 
evil ; but in the progress of these papers I think it will 
appear there is a probability if not a certainty, that 
when Congress shall have established their revenue-acts, 
and standing army, which will be accomplished in a few 
years, they will reduce the number of representatives 
so low, and regulate their elections in such a manner, as 
effectually to destroy the representation of the people. 
Some indeed may say, that if it was greater than at 
present, it would be expensive and burthensome; but 
this is too trifling an objection to deserve refutation; 
for the people of the country know well, that their 
greatest security against a tyrannical government con- 
sists in a ///// and free representation — full as to the 
number of representatives — free as to the right of 
election, and they are not thus to be bubbled out of 
their liberties. Should it be admitted, that at the end 
of three years there will be a representative for every 
thirty thousand inhabitants, the whole number in the 
federal legislature will then be ninety-four, and this 
State's proportion thirteen, and after that time no alter- 
ation will be made until the year eighteen hundred and 
one : And are the citizens of this State disposed to com- 
mit every thing dear to them, for the space of thirteen 
years, to a government, constituted as the new one is 
to be, with only eight representatives for part of the 
time, and thirteen for the remainder of it? — Are the 
States having slaves, to have according to the number 
of freemen a much greater representation than this 
State? And if there had been no objection of this kind, 
are the State governments to be subject to annihilation, 
and when this is accomplished, is the principle of prop- 
ert}^ which is now contended for as the rule of apportion- 
ment, to be then the rule for electing representatives, 
whereby sixty or a less number of wealthy men, may 
elect as many representatives as sixty thousand yeomen? 


What is the number of freemen in Great-Britain, and Comparison 
how many representatives have they? The number, Britain.'**^ 
I think, is computed to be about eight millions, and 
" the number of English representatives, is five hundred 
and thirteen, and of Scots forty-five, in all five hundred 
and eighty-eight" In this proportion we should have 
a representative for every thirteen thousand six hun- 
dred inhabitants, and this State would have thirty repre- 
sentatives in the new Congress. Will the people of 
this State intrust themselves to a government which will 
have the power, and every motive to reduce the number 
of representatives to one half or to one quarter of what 
they are now to be, and thus to deprive the citizens of 
their best security for liberty? I think they will not, 
and that it ought not to be expected of themu 

(To be continued.) 

No. VII. 

[Massachusetts Centinel^ "Extraordinary," February 2, 1788. 

Marked ** Concluded from our last."] 

I AM sensible it will be said the Constitution pro- Abolition 
vides "that the electors in each State shall have the govemmente. 
qualification requisite for electors of the most numerous 
branch of the State legislatures." But the new Consti- 
tution was evidently intended to, and must in its oper- 
ation inevitably produce an abolition of the State 
governments, and when this is accomplished, the rule 
of apportionment of representatives according to prop- 
erty, must and will apply to electors, and have the 
effect mentioned. There would nevertheless be some 
consolation, if these were the only objections relative 
to representation in the new system, but in the sec- 
ond sect, of the first art. there is a provision that " no 
person shall be a representative who shall not have 

1 64 


Eligjibility of 
for office 

will lead to 



attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been 
seven years a citizen of the United States," &c. had 
this provision extended to the foreigners who under 
the government of the United States, had contended 
for the establishment of our independence, it would 
have met with no objection; but as it now stands, 
any foreigner having attained the age of twenty five 
years, having been seven years a citizen of the United 
States, and being an inhabitant of any State, may 
be elected a representative — and the right of being 
elected senators, is confirmed to foreigners who shall 
have attained " the age of thirty years," and " who shall 
have been nine years a citizen of the United States, &c." 
Thus are we to have a supreme legislature over us, to 
consist as well of foreigners, as of freemen of the United 
States. — Citizens of America ! What have you 
for a number of years been contending for? To what 
purpose have you expended so freely the blood and 
treasures of this country? To have a government with 
unlimited powers administered by foreigners ? Will 
there not be immediately planted in the several States, 
men of abilities, who, having the appearance of privates, 
will nevertheless be in the pay of foreign powers? Will 
not such men ingratiate themselves into your favour, or, 
which will be much better for them, into the favour of 
the new government? And after seven years residence, 
will they not be in your federal house of representa- 
tives, or after nine years residence in your senate? Will 
not the most important secrets of your executive, re- 
specting treaties and other matters, be by these means 
always open to European powers? Will you not be 
engaged in their trials? Will not your interest be sacri- 
ficed to their politicks? And will you not be the puppets 
of foreign Courts? Perhaps you will be told that this 
provision will encourage emigrants, who will bring their 
money to America; but will you for such precarious 


and futile prospects consent to part with the right of 
governing yourselves? How carefully is this point 
guarded by Great-Britain. Judge Blackstone, book first, Naturaliza- 
chap. tenth, says, " naturalization cannot be performed G^wSTBritain. 
but by act of parliament, for by this an alien is put in 
exactly the same state as if he had been born in the 
king's legiance, except only that he is incapable as well 
as a denizen of being a member of the privy council^ or 
of parliament^ no bill for naturalization can be received 
in either house of parliament without such disqualify- 
ing clause in it." Other European powers are equally 
careful to exclude foreigners from their councils, whilst 
we, too wise to be benefited by the experience of govern- 
ments which have existed for ages, and have attained 
the zenith of power, are adopting new principles, and 
exposing ourselves to evils which must inevitably lead 
us to destruction. 

What I before hinted respecting the danger of ratify- The crisis in 
ing the new Constitution, as it stands, is now too evident ^'^^^ ^*"**' 
to admit of a doubt: The opposition in Pennsylvania 
have been so imprudent as to burn in effigy. Judge 
M'Kean and Mr. Wilson, two of the leading members 
of their State Convention. The offenders are of ob- 
scure, and perhaps contemptible characters, and there 
is danger, that they will be arrested, without considering 
the probability of their having been excited to this out- 
rage by men of influence — that the government will 
be opposed — and that a civil war will commence, which 
will flame through this continent, the consequences of 
which are to be dreaded: Thus will the fairest pros- 
pects that ever a people had of establishing for them- 
selves good govemmetit, be at once blasted by impnident 
zeal and cursed ambition. 

The virulent supporters of the new system, say, as Aristocracy 
those did in the parliament of Great-Britain, who ^cfcni^. 
pushed the American revenue-acts, that the opposition 



elections not 
an objection. 

setts's repre- 
too small. 

consists principally of men of low and vulgar minds, but 
the event will be much the same in the one case as in 
the other : The yeomenry supported by men of abilities 
and integrity in the several States, and standing on the 
ground of rights will maintain it; and in case of a war, 
will derive [drive? J from this continent, many valuable 
men amongst us, who although now deceived by an aristo- 
cratick party, will be considered as usurpers and tyrants. 
These are not the apprehensions of a timid mind, they 
are predictions founded on our own experience, and 
God grant, that the wisdom of this Convention, on which 
is suspended the fate of America, may avert the im- 
pending evil. You have now the confidence of your 
countrymen, and it is hoped will not be deprived of it, 
by the arts of any individuals with interested views : You 
are now in possession of an inestimable jewels which 
if lost by a hasty ratification, will never be regained. It 
is not my wish to make any objections to the new sys- 
tem that are not well founded, and such I conceive to 
be those against biennial elections: For, considering 
the extent of the continent — the complicated business of 
the legislature — the experience requisite for its mem- 
bers — the necessity of their punctual attendance — ■ 
and their arrangements for quitting their States, and 
familiar biennial elections, are not lengthy or danger'- 
Otis; but can there be any reason, that in the first 
Congress, when the most important institutions and 
provisions will be made for carrying into effect the new 
system, Massachusetts, who according to her numbers 
of freemen, is entitled to nearly eleven out of sixty- 
five, should have but eight representatives? It must 
clearly appear, by my former numbers, that by the clause 
for regulating representation, we are to be reduced to 
the level of slaves, and that we shall soon be such, if 
the planters of the south are to send to the new Con- 
gress, representatives for three fifths of their negroes. 


But if this rule was even admissible, we are entitled to 
above nine representatives according to the present 
enumeration, and are told, as a consolation for having 
but eight members, that New-Hampshire has the de- 
ficient number, which to us is the same thing. This to 
me is unintelligible, for the members of both houses are 
to be paid out of the continental treasury, to which we 
shall contribute a full proportion according to our prop- . 
erty : Why then should we give up to any State what- 
ever, the important privilege of sending a representative? 
New-Hampshire is a good neighbour, but like other 
States, has her separate interests, and in pursuit of it, 
our's may and will be sacrificed, by such an unreasonable 
concession. It is remarkable, that in the new system^ Absence of ^ 
there is no qualification of property, for members of qu^i^cation 
either branch of the federal legislature. It is surprizing "^' ®®^ 
to some gentlemen in Convention, that others should 
wish " to exclude from the federal government a good 
maHy because he was not a rich one " — No such thing is 
in contemplation, but on the other hand, they wish to 
send him there, and want to know what security there is, 
that a good man, not being wealthy, shall long continue 
to be eligible to such an office? If there was provision 
in the Constitution, that any citizen having three, six, or 
even nine hundred pounds estate, should be eligible, and 
that one of those sums should be requisite to qualify 
him, the publick would be equally guarded against a 
representation of persons having no property at all, and 
an exclusion of good men. because not wealthy : But the 
objection to the Constitution is, that it has no provision 
for securing the eligibility of good men. If good mem- will permit 
bers without much property, should oppose the wealthy enacf^^ol^ 
but unprincipled ones in Congress, and prevent their noxious one. 
passing oppressive acts, such as revenue-acts, calculated 
to promote peculation — to protect defaulters — and 
to plunder the people, (as this system undoubtedly will 

1 68 


The " neces- 
sary and 
proper " 

sional control 
of elections 

is based on 
fear of the 
State legis- 

of all their property) will not those unprincipled mem- 
bers exert themselves to pass an act, requiring for 
senators and representatives so high a qualification of 
prpperty, as to exclude for ever from Congress, the good 
men who have not great estates? Surely they will, 
being fully authorized thereto by the omnipotent clause, 
enabling Congress '* to make all laws which shall be 
necessary and proper for carrying into execution the fore- 
going powers and all other powers, vested by this Con- 
stitution, in the government of the United States, or in 
any department or office thereof." This I call an om- 
nipotent clause, for I must believe the man who says, that 
he he \sic\ can see in its aphelion^ a comet which requires 
a century for its revolution, as soon as him that says, he 
can see the extent to which an artful and arbitrary legis- 
lature, can by this clause stretch their powers. We shall 
next consider the most important clause respecting rep- 
resentation, in art. ist. sect 4th. which provides, " that 
the times, places, and manner of holding elections for 
senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each 
State by the legislature thereof: But the Congress may 
at any time by law, make or alter such regulations, ex- 
cept as to the places of choosing senators." — Great 
ingenuity has been manifested in attempts to explain 
away the meaning and tendency of this fatal clause — a 
clause destructive of the small but best security which 
the people by the new system will have for preserving 
their liberties : Let us candidly attend to the arguments 
urged on this occasion. One is, that the legislatures, 
or as they are called the sovereignties of the States, are 
to be the constituents of the federal senate, and the 
people, the constituents of the house of representatives ; 
that in the frequent struggles and contentions between 
these two branches to depress and controul each other, 
each will be supported by its constituents, and therefore 
that the State legislatures, if uncontrouled by the fed- 


eral legislature, would endeavour so to regulate the times, 
places, and manner of holding elections, as to deprive 
the people of their right of representation — Here, 
besure, is the appearance of great tenderness for the 
rights of the people, and nothing but the appearance ; for 
an imaginary danger of loosing their rights is held up to 
them to them \sic'\ to introduce a retnedy which must in- 
evitably deprive them of those rights. That there will be but such 
such struggles and contentions between the two branches, fo^dedT 
is admitted — but is it natural to suppose, that the 
State legislatures, in aid of the federal senate, will wish 
to destroy the federal representation? Are not the 
members of one branch of the State legislatures in all the 
States and of the other branch, in most of them, elected 
annually, or for a less time? Are not those members 
dependent on the people for re-elections, and equally 
with them affected by all federal and state laws ? Can 
those members have any separate interest from the 
people for destroying the balance in the federal legis- 
lature? And if they could have such a separate inter- 
est, and should attempt to impair or destroy the right 
of choosing federal representatives, would not the peo- 
ple instantly feel the injury, and leave out of the legis- 
lature men so inimical to their rights? Was there no 
controuling power in the federal legislature for altering 
or regulating the times, places, and manner of holding 
elections, would not the people, by annually electing 
those who are to make the regulations, have every check 
requisite for securing the right of elections? If, indeed, 
the members of the State legislatures held their offices 
independent of the people, and had separate interests, 
there would be some ground for the argument — but, 
dependent as they are, and having the same interests 
with the people, they cannot. 




No. VIII. 

In conflicts 
between Fed* 
eral Senate 
and Housei 

State legisla- 
tures are the 
only proper 

[Massachusetts Centinel^ February 6, 1788.] 

Let us, however, suppose the federal senate, in such 
a mighty squabble calling on their constituents, the 
State legislatures, for aid to impair or destroy the dem- 
ocratical federal branch. Is it possible that the mem- 
bers of any State senate or house, would " introduce 
such regulations, as would render the right of the peo- 
ple, insecure," or ** make on \sic\ unequal and partial 
division of the State into districts," or " disqualify one 
third of the electors," as has been urged? Would the 
members from Worcester, or Hampshire, in either 
branch consent to regulations which would deprive their 
constituents of their suffrages and increase the privi- 
leges of the electors of Suffolk, or any other county? 
Could the members in either branch of the State legis- 
lature, ever have a motive to adopt such measures, as 
would deprive themselves as well as their constituents 
from influencing the elections of federal representa- 
tives? Will not the members of the State legislatures, as 
part of the collective body, be the constituents of the/^rf- 
eral representatives? Will not the State legislatures, 
being thus the constituents of both branches, be the only 
safe and proper umpire for preserving the harmony and 
ballance of the federal legislature? Will not the State 
legislatures knowing there can be no security for prop- 
erty under a rapacious aristocracy, leave out of the fed- 
eral senate every member that shall aim at an undue 
controul of the house, and endeavour to produce by the 
people the same change of such federal representatives, 
as shall encroach on the rights of the senate? Surely 
they would; and it is unnatural to suppose that the 
State legislatures can have any interest in aiding the 
federal senate to destroy the ballance of the federal 


legislature, or if they had, that the measure would be 
attempted ; or if it was, that the people would need any 
other assistance, than their rights, under the State Consti- 
tutions to defeat the attempt But let us suppose there is 
some danger of this evil, is it to be avoided by incuring 
one much greater? The federal senators, except two 
thirds of the first senate, will be always elected for six 
and the house for two years. The members of both the 
federal branches from the duration and respectability of 
their appointments, and from their lucrative establish- 
ments, to be made by themselves^ will have a great interest 
in their offices^ and every motive to perpetuate t/tem. This Tendency 
will be a common interest, and may, (as I think will evi- [^^ul * 
dently appear) be attained without even altering the aristocraqr. 
form of the new Constitution, so excellently well adapted 
is it, to the establishment of a baleful aristocracy. The 
federal legislature may, as has been shewn, and un- 
doubtedly will, make the qualification of property so 
high, as that few in each State can be elected to either 
the senate or house : Whilst the revenue laws and other 
civil establishments in the executive and judicial depart- 
ments of the union, will necessarily produce through the 
Continent, swarms of officers, who being nominated by 
the President, and appointed by and with the advice and 
consent of the senate, will be in their interest, and in the 
interest of the hot^se likewise, as grants will be made by 
their joint concurrence. All the federal military offi- 
cers will be appointed in the same manner, and be in 
the same interest — all the militia officers, through the 
continent, where appointments are by the new system, 
reserved to the States, will nevertheless, as the military 
officers under the present Confederation, be commis- 
sioned by the President of the United States, and at- 
tached to the congressional interest. All the late officers 
of the army who are a very reputable and influential 
body of men, and who are united by an institution, which 


gives them ten times the influence they would otherwise 
have, will have the same attachment to federal govern- 
This tendency ment. How easy then, will it be with such support^ for a 
purify^oifrei^ body of such able men as will compose Congress to estab- 
resentation. Ush the elections of federal representatives at the metrofh 
oils as at any other place^ in each state, and when this is 
effected, to collect the congressional or crown officers 
(as they soon will be called) at that place, and carry the 
elections for these senators and representatives who shall 
be in the aristocratical interest of the federal govern- 
ment, leaving out all honest republicans^ who shall have 
been so vulgar as to have paid any regard to the inter- 
est of their constituents ? 




The sources that have been used in the preparation 
of this essay may be grouped chiefly under the follow- 
ing heads : (i) manuscripts in the Archives of the State 
of Massachusetts; (2) contemporary pamphlets and 
newspapers; (3) published correspondence of men of 
the time ; and (4) the reports of the debates of the 
ratifying Convention. 

(i) Among the materials in the Archives bearing Manuscript 
, . /> a . • • sources* 

upon the topic of this paper, the most important are 

the reports of the votes of the several towns upon vari- 
ous matters connected with the formation of the State 
Constitution and with the ratification of the Articles of 
Confederation; the Journals and other papers of the 
Senate and the House of Representatives; and the 
papers of the ratifying Convention of 1788. A large 
amount of interesting matter illustrative of the political 
ideas of the people throughout the different sections of 
the State may be gleaned from the first of these sources. 
The Journals of the House and the Senate are of con- 
siderable value in connection with the calling of the 
Convention and with the proceedings relating to the 
Constitution after its ratification by that body; but 
the meagreness of the entries of this period is often 
provoking. The fact, however, that most of the motions, 
committee reports, and other miscellaneous papers of 
the General Court have been preserved, goes some way 
toward remedying this defect. The papers of the Con- 


vention of 1788 comprtee the Journal of the proceedings 
of that body, petitions concerning disputed elections 
and the action of the various committees to which each 
was referred, the pay-roll of the convention, and various 
miscellaneous papers, such as excuses presented by 
members for absence, etc. ; of these the pay-roll and 
excuses of absent members are about the only ones that 
have not yet been printed. 
Pamphlets (2) The Constitution itself was issued in pamphlet 

S)iistitutionv ^*^^"^ ^" ^ number of editions. Of pamphlets against 

the Constitution, written by persons from without the 
State, R. H. Lee's Letters of the Federal Farmer^ and 
the Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Pennsylvania 
Minority y seem to have been the chief ones circulated in 
Massachusetts, the New York Committee of Federal 
Republicans apparently taking the initiative in their dis- 
semination.^ Of pamphlets written by Massachusetts 
men, Jackson's Thoughts upon the Political Situation 
of the United States of America (1788) is chiefly val- 
uable for the light it throws upon the political theo- 
ries that prevailed among the aristocratic class after the 
convulsions of 1786-87. Gerry's Observations on the 
New Constitution , . . By a Columbian Patriot (1788) 
is about the only pamphlet originating in the State 
which is in the nature of a discussion of the Constitu- 
tion ; and, as Mr. Ford indicates, this was " probably 
printed for Gerry for limited circulation only," ^ though 
a large number of copies were afterward printed by Green- 
leaf for the New York Committee of Federal Republi- 
cans. Its contents have already been indicated in the text. 
The Writings ofLaco consist of a series of letters written 
by Stephen Higginson in 1789 to prevent the re-election 

^ For a list of the Antifederalist productions from without the 
State which were published in the newspapers, see the note to page 


« Ford, Pamphlets on the Constitution ^ p. 407. 


of Governor Hancock in that year. They contain a 
severe arraignment of the whole political life of the latter, 
and are of value for the disclosures which they make 
concerning Hancock's course during the Convention. 
All but No. 7 of these were printed at the time in the 
Massachusetts Centinel; the whole series was then imme- 
diately issued in pamphlet form for electioneering pur- 
poses. In 1857 the letters were reprinted under the 
general title Ten Chapters in the Life of John Hancock, 

The number of newspapers that were in existence in The newspa- 
Massachusetts at the time when the Constitution was ^^ terature. 
before the people, however, seems to have discouraged 
the use of the pamphlet as a means of discussion. The 
newspapers of the day constitute one of the richest 
sources for the study of the political opinion of this 
period. The most important, of course, are those pub- 
lished at Boston. Of these the Independent Chronicle 
and the Massachusetts Centinel were strongly Federal, 
though, in accordance with the custom of the time, com- 
munications on both sides of the question were freely 
published. The Boston Gazette and Country Journal 
(published by Benjamin Edes & Son), and the American 
Herald (published by Edward-Eveleth Powars), leaned 
to the other side of the question. This is especially 
true of the latter; in it are to be found not only the 
most rabid of the Antifederalist pieces, but also distinctly 
editorial utterances against the Constitution. Because 
of its Antifederalism, this paper, like the Pennsylvania 
Herald during the contest in that State, seems to have 
been "boycotted," and in August, 1788, we find it re- 
moved to Worcester; in October, 1789, it was forced to 

Of the papers published elsewhere in the State, the 
Salem Mercury y the Hampshire Chronicle, the Hampshire 
Gazette^ and the Worcester Magazine are among the most 
important for the purposes of this study. The last is 

iy6 APPENDIX c. 

merely another form of Isaiah Thomas's Massachusetts 
Spy^ which was suspended from March, 1786, to March, 
1788, owing to the imposition by the State of a stamp 
duty of two-thirds of a penny upon newspapers during 
this period. The matter in all of these is in large part 
clipped from the Boston or other metropolitan papers, 
credit seldom being given. The most complete collec- 
tion of these newspapers is in the library of the Amer- 
ican Antiquarian Society at Worcester, Massachusetts ; 
and fairly complete files of some of them may be 
found in the library of the Massachusetts Historical 
Society and at the Boston Athenaeum. 
Collections (3) Perhaps the most valuable collection of private 

lettere!*^^ letters bearing upon the contest in Massachusetts is that 

drawn from the papers of George Thatcher, of Biddeford, 
Maine, and published in the old Historical Magazine for 
November and December, 1869. Some three score let- 
ters are there printed, bearing in whole or in part upon 
the Constitution. Thatcher was delegate to Congress 
from Massachusetts in 1787-88, and was kept fully in- 
formed of the state of public opinion on the Constitution, 
especially of that in Maine, by his correspondents, among 
whom are numbered several of the most active Antifed- 
eralists in the Convention. In the Life and Correspond^ 
enceof Rufus ATiw^ there is also much important material 
for this study. The letters of Christopher Gore, the 
founder of Gore Hall, the library building of Harvard 
College, kept King informed of the progress of events 
until the latter's return to Boston in time to attend the 
Convention ; after that we find much valuable matter in 
King's own letters to Madison, Knox, and others. In 
Jeremy Belknap's correspondence with Ebenezer Hazard 
(in the Belknap Papers)^ we get the impressions of a 
trained historian, somewhat tinctured, however, with 
aristocratic prejudice ; the letters do not pretend to give 
more than the impressions of a spectator. In the printed 


biographies of such men as Gerry, Sullivan, and Samuel 
Adams, there is practically nothing of importance, all 
letters and other papers that might have shown the 
activity of these men against the Constitution having 
apparently been suppressed by their respective biogra- 
phers, or by other persons. 

(4) Of the reports of the debates in the Convention, Reports of 
four editions are in existence; they are all, however, 
founded upon the same notes, and differ from one another, 
in the main, only as to the extent of supplementary mat- 
ter. These notes were taken chiefly by Benjamin Russell, 
of the Massachusetts CentineU and were first published in 
that paper ; they were then printed in but slightly altered 
form under the title. Debates^ Resolutions and other Pro- 
ceedingSy of the Convention . . . Together with the Yeas 
and Nays on the decision of the Grand Question (Boston, 
1788). In a note to this edition, the editor recognizes 
the existence of " some inaccuracies, and many omis- 
sions," due to the " inexperience " of the reporters ; the 
reports of some of the speeches, however, were revised 
by their authors, and in some cases, particularly in those 
of the less educated members, there seems to have been 
considerable correction on the part of the reporter — 
indeed, it is asserted that such correction extended, in 
some cases, even to the alteration of the sentiments ex- 
pressed.^ In 1808 this work was republished at Boston, 
practically unaltered except in spelling and punctua- 
tion; and in 1827-30, and in subsequent editions, it was 
again republished in Elliot's Debates in the several State 
Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. 
In 1856 another, and in every way the best, edition of 
the Massachusetts debates was issued, this time under 

* D. Sewall to Thatcher, March 4, 1788 : Thatcher Papers^ 
No. 41. The speeches of General Thompson are cited as exam- 
ples of such alteration. 



the aathorization of the Legislature, and under the edi- 
torship of Messrs. B. K. Peirce and Charles Hale. In 
this edition we have not only the debates as reported by 
Russell (with the spelling and punctuation of the edition 
of 1808), but also brief notes taken by Theophilus Par- 
sons, which are often of considerable value in supple- 
menting and correcting the former ; the Journal of the 
Convention is also included, together with petitions 
from several towns concerning contested elections and 
the action of committees thereon, many letters from 
Washington, Lincoln, Madison, and others in regard to 
the contest, and a number of extracts from contemporary 
newspapers. These four editions vary somewhat in their 
lists of yeas and nays on the question of the ratification ; 
for a discussion of this subject, see Libby, Geographical 
Distribution of the Vote of the Thirteen States on the 
Federal Constitution^ Appendix B. 

In addition to Russell's reports and Parson's notes, 
the minutes of the proceedings kept by Jeremy Belknap 
are also in existence, and have been published in the 
Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society for 
1858. They are brief, but often of much value. 

Secondary Of the secondary works dealing with this subject, 

^^' ^ Barry's History of Massachusetts gives the fullest ac- 

count ; it is concerned, however, almost entirely with the 
action of the Convention, and leaves unworked the mass 
of newspaper literature and the letters of less prominent 
personages which enable one to go behind the scenes. 
Bancroft's History of the Formation of the Constitution 
(1882) is briefer than the foregoing, but so far as the 
proceedings in the Convention are concerned, it gives 
an excellent account; Bancroft does not, however, fully 
grasp the causes of the opposition, nor does it seem to 
the present writer that he duly appreciates the position 
of Governor Hancock. The account in Curtis's Constt- 


tuiional History of the United States is satisfactory only 
as a brief summary: the discussion both in and out of 
the Convention is merely alluded to, and the author's 
understanding of Samuel Adams's position with respect 
to Hancock's " conciliatory proposition " seems to be a 
mistaken one (see Bancroft, History of t/ie Formation of 
the Constitution, II. 270, note). McMaster's account, in 
his History of the People of tlu United States^ possesses 
both the virtues and the faults of that writer : he alone 
rightly appreciates the influence of the antagonism be- 
tween the democracy and the aristocracy in the contest; 
but he seems to ascribe too great an influence to Shays's 
Rebellion in producing a Federal reaction in Massachu- 
settSy and he also puts too much credence in the charges 
of bribery brought against members of the Convention. 
Fiske, in his Critical Period, does not pretend to make 
any original contribution to the subject; he certainly 
errs in ascribing to Samuel Adams such great influence 
in the Convention 



Adams, John. Works. Edited by Charles Francis Adams, 
lo vols. Boston, 1856. 

Adams, Samuel. Life and Public Services. By William 
Vincent Wells. 3 vols. Boston, 1865. 

American Antiquarian Society. Proceedings. 

Bancroft, George. History of the Formation of the 
Constitution of the United States of America. Third edition. 
2 vols. New York. 1882-83. 

Belknap, Jeremy. Minutes of the Convention of 1788. 
In Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 
for 1858. Boston, 1859. 

Belknap, Jeremy. Papers. In Collections of the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society, 5 th Series. Boston, 1877. 

Curtis, George Ticknor. Constitutional History of the 
United States. Vol. I. New York, 1889. 

EixiOT, Jonathan. The Debates in the several State Con- 
ventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, etc. 
Second edition, with considerable additions. 5 vols. Phila- 
delphia, 1 86 1. 

Essex Instttute. Historical Collections. 

Ford, Paul Leicester (Eiditor). Pamphlets on the Con- 
stitution of the United States, published during its Discussion 
by the People: 178 7-1 788. Brooklyn, 1888 and 1892. 

Gerry, Elbridge. Life ; with Contemporary Letters. By 
James T. Austin. 2 vols. Boston, 1828-1829. 

[Gerry, Elbridge.] Observations on the New Constitution, 
and on the Federal and State Conventions. By a Columbian 
Patriot [Boston, 1788.] 


Hancock, John. Biographical Sketch of the Life and 
Character of his late Excellency Governor Hancock. [By 
James Sullivan.] i6 pp. Boston, [1793J. 

Haynes, Fred Emory. The Struggle for the Constitution 
in Massachusetts: 1 775-1 780. Cambridge, 1891. (MS. 
Thesis for Ph.D., Harvard University.) 

[HiGGiNSON, Stephen.] The Writings of Laco, as pub- 
lished in the Massachusetts Centinel in the months of 
February and March, 1789, with the addition of No. yil, 
which was omitted. Boston, 1789. (Reprinted as "Ten 
Chapters in the Life of John Hancock.'* New York, 1857.) 

[Jackson, Jonathan.] Thoughts upon the Political Situation 
of the United States of America, in which that of Massachusetts 
is more particularly considered. With some Observations on 
the Constitution for a Federal Government. ... By a Native 
of Boston. Worcester, 1788. 

King, Rufus. Life and Correspondence. Edited by his 
grandson, Charles R. King. 3 vols, issued. New York, 

Knox, Henry. Life and Correspondence. By Francis S. 
Drake. Boston, 1873. 

Laco, Writings of. See Higginson, Stephen. 

Lanman, Charles. Biographical Annals of the Civil Gov- 
ernment of the United States. Second edition. New York, 

Lee, Richard Henry. Memoir of the Life of Richard 
Henry Lee, and his Correspondence. ... By his grandson, 
Richard H. Lee. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1825. 

LiBBY, Orin Grant. The Geographical Distribution of the 
Vote of the Thirteen States on the Federal Constitution. 
(Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin.) Madison, 1894. 

McMaster, John Bach, and Stone, Frederick Dawson. 
Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution: 1 787-1 788. 
Philadelphia, 1888. 

Madison, James. Letters and other Writings. 4 vols. 
Philadelphia, 1865. 

Madison, James. Papers • • • ; being his correspondence 


and rqx>its of debates . . . Henrj D. Gflpin, editor. 3 vols. 
New Yorky 1841. 

Massachusetts. Debates, Resofaitknis, and other Proceed- 
ings, of the Convention [of 1788] . • . Boston, 1788. 

M A SR A< : Hiibicns . Debates, Resofaitknis and other Proceed- 
mgs of the Convention [of 1788] . . • Boston, i8o8. 

Massachusetts. Debates and Proceedings in the Conven- 
tion of • . . 1788. Published by order of the L^islatore. 
Boston, 1856. 

Massachusetts. Journal of the Convention for Framing a 
Constitution of Government for the State of Massachusetts Bay ; 
1779-1780. With an Appendix. PuUished by order of the 
Legislature. Boston, 1832. 

Massachusetts. Resolves of the General Court ... re- 
specting the sale of Eastern Lands. . . . Bostcm, 1803. 
Massachusetts Archives. MS. in the State House, Boston. 
Massachusetts Historical SodETY. Collections. 
Massachusetts Historical Society. Proceedings. 
Minot, George Richards. The History of the Insurrec- 
tions, in Massachusetts, in the year 1786, and the Rebellion 
consequent thereon. Worcester, 1788. 

Parsons, Theophilus. Memoir; with notices of some of 
his contemporaries. By his son, Theophilus P^ursons. Boston, 
Periodicals — 
American Herald, Boston. 
Boston Gazette and Country Journal, Boston. 
Hampshire Chronicle, Springfield, Mass. 
Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, Mass. 
Historical Magazine, Morrisania, New York. 
Independent Chronicle, Boston. 
Massachusetts Centinel, Boston. 
Massachusetts Gazette, Boston. 
Salem Mercury, Salem, Mass. 
Worcester Magazine, 1 786-1 788, Worcester, Mass. 
PooRE, Benjamin Perley. The Political Register and Con- 
gressional Directory. Boston, 1878. 


Pynchon, William. Diary. Edited by F. E. Oliver. 
Boston, 1890. 

Scon, Erastus Howard (Editor). The Federalist, and 
other Constitutionalist Papers. Chicago, 1894. 

Sparks, Jared. Correspondence of the American Revolu- 
tion ; being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington. 
4 vols. Boston, 1853. 

Sullivan, James. Life ; with Selections from his Writings. 
By Thomas Coffin Amory. 2 vols. Boston, 1859. 

Thatcher, George. Selections from the Papers of; in the 
Historical Magazine for November and December, 1869. 
Town Histories — 

Adams, Charles Francis. History of Braintree . . . and 

Quincy . • . 1 639-1 889. Cambridge, 1891. 
Bailey, Sarah Loring. Historical Sketches of Andover. 

Boston, 1880. 
Benedict, William A., and Tracey, Hiram A. History 
of the Town of Sutton, Massachusetts: 1 704-1876. 
Worcester, 1878. 
Bourne, Edward Emerson. The History of Wells and 
Kennebunk, from the earliest settlement to the year 
1820. Portland, 1875. 
Dean, Samuel. History of Scituate, Mass., from its first 

settlement to 1831. Boston, 1831. 
Heywood, William Sweetzer. History of Westminster, 

Massachusetts: 1 728-1893. Lowell, 1893. 
HuNTOON, Daniel T. V. History of the Town of Canton, 

Norfolk County, Massachusetts. Cambridge, 1893. 
Jameson, John Franklin. Records of the Town of Am- 
herst: 1 735-1 788. Amherst, 1884. 
Marvin, Abijah Perkins. History of the Town of Lan- 
caster, Massachusetts : 1 643-1 879. Lancaster, 1879. 
Morse, Abner. A Genealogical Register of the Inhabi- 
tants and History of the Towns of Sherbom and Hollis- 
ton. Boston, 1856. 
Smtth, Joseph E. A. The History of Pittsfield (Berkshire 
County), Massachusetts: 1 734-1 800. Boston, 1869. 


Taylor, Charles J. Hislorj of Gieat Baniogton (Berk- 
shire Cowatj), Massachusetts. Great Banii^;toii, 1882. 
Wheeler, Geosocs: A. and Henry W. History of Bruns- 
wick, Topsham, and HarpsireD, Maine. Boston, 1878. 
Wills, William. The History of Pdrtland. i632-r864. 
Second edition. Portland, 1865. 
Untted States. Docomentary History of the Constitution. 
(Issaed by the Department of State, in the BoDetins of the 
Bureau of Rolls and library.) Government Piinting-Office, 

Warren, Mrs. Mercy. History of the Rise, Progress, and 
Termination of the American Revolution. 3 vols. Boston, 

Williamson, William Durkee. The History of the State of 
Maine. 1602- 18 20. 2 vols. Hallowell, 1832. 

Wilus, William. History of the Law, the Courts, and the 
Lawyers of Maine. Portland, 1863. 


Adams, John, on ascendency of inferior men, lo ; cited, 60 note. 

Adams, Samuel, charged with authorship of article signed " Hei- 
vidius Priscus," 22 note ; and with one signed " Candidus,** 23 ; 
elected delegate, 55 note, 56 ; attitude toward the Constitution, 
95-6, and note ; effect of Boston mechanics* resolutions on, 96^ 
97 and note; course in Convention, 61, 96 note, 97; opposes 
motion to hasten decision, 83 ; advocates adoption of Constitu- 
tion with Hancock's amendments, 89 ; proposes additional amend- 
ments, 95, 97-8 ; his motives, 97-8. 

Agricultural and commercial sections, rivalry of, 9, 34, 7$. 

Allen, Rev. Thomas, 3. 

Amendments to the Constitution, proposed by " Hampden,'* 32 ; by 
Hancock and accepted by the Convention, 88-9; proposed by 
Samuel Adams, 98. 

American Herald, loses patronage because of Antifederalism, 28 

Ames, Fisher, Federalist leader, 61 

Amesbury, town of, action on Articles of Confederation, 5. 

Anarchy, desire for, a cause of opposition to the Constitution, 74-5 

Andfederalist articles, authorship of, 20-1. 

Antifederalist leaders, 61-6. 

Aristocracy, fear of, in 1785, 60 note; in Massachusetts politics, 
8-13; Constitution the work of, 75-6; opposition to, in the con- 
test over the Constitution, 14, 75-9; reception of the Constitu- 
tion by, in Massachusetts, 14; charged with attempting to force 
the adoption of the Constitution, 27 note. 

Arms, Consider, delegate, publishes reasons of dissent, 103, 106-7 

Articles of Confederation, submitted to the towns, 5; amendments 
proposed by the towns, 5; mere amendment of, sufficient, 21 
note, 23 ; adoption of the Constitution a violation of, 29, 33. 

Ashfield, town of, resolves of 1776, 2-3. 

" Atticus," article by, 11. 

1 86 INDEX. 

Austin, Benjamin^ 21; author of **Honestus" letters, 21 note; 
charged with authorship of letter signed ** Candidus,*' 23; de- 
feated for the Convention, 56 note. 

Avery, John, Jr., on recommendatory amendments, 84; on ratifica- 
tion, 99 note. 

Bacon, John, sketch of, 52 note. 

Bangs, £., on dread of arbitrary power, 74. 

Banquet given to the Convention, 106. 

Barnstable County, vote in the Convention, 99. 

Barren, Nathaniel, delegate, 73; sketch of, 91-2 ; on the opposition 
to the Constitution, 75 note, 81 ; his objections to the Constitu- 
tion, 92-3 note ; his course in the Convention, 93 ; withdraws his 
opposition, 94 ; fears revolution if hopes of amendment are dis- 
appointed, 93-4 note ; attitude of his constituents toward, 108 note. 

Barrett, Samuel, defeated for the Convention, 56 note. 

Belcher, Larson, defeated for the Convention, 56 note. 

Belknap, Jeremy, cited, 59, 65, 82, 97. 

Bell, Major Wm., defeated for the Convention, 56 note. 

Berkshire, vote in the Convention, 99. 

Berkshire Constitutionalists, 3. 

Biddeford, Maine, action on the Constitution, 49 note ; acquiesces 
in ratification, 109. 

Bill of Rights, lack of, in the Constitution, 19 Thomas B. Wait on 
the necessity for, 38-9 ; Silas Lee on, 40 ; town of Harvard de- 
sires, 56 note ; explanation of emphasis on, 68. 

Bishop, Capt. Phanuel, delegate, sketch of, 65-6 ; on Congressional 
control of elections, 69 ; moves amendment of reply to Governor's 
address in legislature, 1 10 ; on the adoption of the Constitution, 
III note. 

Bluehill Ba;^, town of, action on State Constitution of 1778, 8 note. 

Boothbay, town of, resolves of 1 778 for national union, 3. 

Boston, demand for removal of capital from, 9 and note ; reception 
of Constitution at, 16; election of delegates at, 53-6; candidates 
and votes, 55 note; mechanics' resolutions, 96-7 ; celebrates rati- 
fication, 106; gubernatorial election at, in 1788, 56 note, 86 

Bowdoin, James, elected delegate to Convention, 55 note, 56 ; Fed- 
eralist leader, 61 ; gives dinner to Boston delegates, 96. 

Bribery, charges of, loi ; discussed, 102-3. 

Bridgewater, town of, action on Articles of Confederation, 5. 
^Bristol County, vote in Convention, 99. 

Brunswick, Maine, votes to accept the Constitution, 56. 

" Brutus " letters of, 17, 96. 

Bryan, Samuel, 18 note. 

IXDEX 187 

Cabot, George, deI^ate-fe;oacoiii3if tree a prepare acLirea* to 
the people, iijnoce. 

^^Candidiis,'' aitsde bj. 23. 

CaiHtal, State, desucd sor r^no^ 9: Raacos fior. 9 soce: project 
for removal to Worcestsr. So. 

*< Centind," letters o£ 17. c3 note. 76. 

*' QndnnatiB,*' Ictfiers c£. 17. i^ zcee. 

Cindnoatiis. ordo' oi. 27 ooce. 

Clarke, Joseph, canr'TfHiti* sor CooT^soctu 56 ikcs. 

Qcrgy, geoerallT in avor ot tie Cccadzicct:. ;< aati MCei tSieir 
vote in nti^rtng CocrennQC ;6 2CC£. 

Clinton, George, 17 coce. 

uCondUatorr propcsit^c.'' the- ori^ia -^t ?^: riiicrxk'i r^L&doa 
to, 85-7; Intnxiaced, 37-^: ;ra«iocs cd !^: '-.- ^Ty ru-e ot :a 
other States. 115. 

Congress, powers gL dazgeroos. 35: rco '^•sjtsrs^ 4^: ccjectxtis 
to, 71-2- 

ConsoHdarion. adrocaasd by &cz. 12. 

ConstitntiocL Federal pT^bilcarcti cc. ::i ^r;uft3C>.^'i'^:t:i^ f 5: '.Xx xtr 
ceptioo. 15-6: retan :g C(;ti^;r*aa mCrrji^jL 3: : iaietuirsest* pro- 
posed bjr •* Hampden." 32-3: "'-7 Sanr^ti A.'la.r-t- y, : a.r>try..r-itr*ti 
rccomme&ded bj^-t Sr^cs Ccc^enicc, '''^; 'VX.':l"Jr.r.ii ra^Ifi. 
cation adrfsed. 33 asd scce: nui.ied -vitii r«cr^t£rr.<r/U:ir»ri of 
amendments. 9r^ 

Consdtntxoo. Federal, ccfecaocs V-. r> 2r:. 2: -2 rxv„ 23-^ 5% 51 

w^ftf 53-4- 5^ 0*5^*- ^--rS- >i-3 =^>^- S^ '^'*''^: r^rtilM ^f a//^t^ 
ing. 24-6; present ar arisscr.radr^ tyV.^m. 2iC-^: », \y\*ATn fA 
consoBdarfflc 20 : nc:3r.a::cc »C rxli::* .'-,uv. ''./'.- rirr;: //ft aM 
establish a prsccomt l-^r a df»co*:a.T.. 2r>-y,: rrAlt-^^ ;,r''y;/3t5r 
the basssof dbe Ksra^e. 3c : r'T*n 0'-r.zT*A^ v,6T'a of ♦;*/'/>*f»*, 
30, 34: ^Tors sienarLi^ 3«:::or^ a^ -i-.^ *x>!r..vt of avr/ 'il'.rjral, 
^-5: frecdcc: of rtil^r.r.. oc !■>**:-.. ii.-; '/ v.< ;:,r»A* r.o* ^^/.rir<yj 
b7,36: am'-i^yrjol 3.>: .it:*;** vr, r.~-i-.:- v, f .--re ^or.sjr*:wt%, 
44: impract5i:a>.ie. ^3 -i-.r-*. .:<^ ^^^5 Apvi:r.<^.;ot^ A a:.^ f5. 

Coostxtntionp Stare, ot f-r. 

Conrenarxi. Federal nxrjxf.t^. aiitl-xr.r;. j-. : sutrr. v*w* ^>f, ^^ iUty f>l 
iBorpatfoa aisd tjranzj. 2^ zc*-^ 

Omrentsoc nzif.tsz. cai:^ xf-^,: -v^rr.v/* -v^r. of j'^. I^v]^r% in, 
60-6; sa-ei^-. oc sar:;« :.-.. C7 r.^/>, ; -t'^Ax */, uk". up 
Coosctcticfi zj para4?ri;^>.s. ^7 : ov*.o->.r*» v, ^y/r,**i''jf i/^n In, 
6^-73 : seMiccs opened irv. ^raier. 7-^ r.%*i» : rr.o* or.% '/, a/!//>irn 
d fipar . fd, 22. ^-5: =o*ir,c -/i r*.v,r-a/ii^ 70*<t V/ r:iv,'i4% f/y 
paragraphs de&at.*d. ^ 2-3 : r»c.or:. .r..^.<^.;k v^ry a rr,^ r./: ';.*: r, f « i nt r^/- 
doced, 87-9: acicc r,c ootr..r.:vj« ^r., >x: r:-.*:r ;r.f: *^r,/^, ;*/; /^ ; 
Adamft's add:t:>.C2U arr.iKd.Twi-.u ^..*f<av/:. <>; y, ; /y^n^fitfi. 
tioo r a tffii d ^rth !•.•* r*rx?r.r.itr^'Ur>'/r. of 4;.-,^.vJr/i-:ri?%, y^; w/t4 

t88 INDEX. 

on ratification, 99-100; charges of bribery, loo-i ; their baseless 
character, 101-3 ; charge of unfair methods, 103 ; its basis, 103-4; 
banquet given to, 106. 

Convention, State constitutional, of 1778, 6; of 1779-80, 6. 

Cooley, Daniel, delegate, acquiesces in ratification, 105 note. 

" Cornelius," letter of, 33-5. See also Appendix A. 

Council, Federal executive, 43. 

Cumberland County, Maine, vote in Convention, 100. 

Cushing, candidate for Convention, 55 note. 

Dane, Nathan, attempts to amend Constitution in Congress, 62 ; 
left out of ratifying Convention, 62. 

Davis, Caleb, elected delegate, 55 note. 

Dawes, Thomas, Jr., elected delegate, 55 note; on manufactures 
and protective tariff, 72 note. 

Dawson, Henry B., loi, 102. 

Delegated powers, distrust o^ 74. 

Demagogism, in opposition to Constitution, 81. 

Democracy, Sedgwick on, 12; Jonathan Jackson on, 12 note; in 
Massachusetts politics, 8-13 ; in the contest over the Constitu- 
tion, 14, 27 note, 75-9. 

Dench, Capt. Gilbert, delegate, 109. 

Donnison, Col. Wm., author of " Bribery and Corruption " article, 

Dukes County, vote in Convention, 100. 

Elections, biennial, objections to, 69; advisability of, conceded, 

69; congressional control of, an objection, 40, 56 note, 69. 
Essex County, vote in Convention, 99. 
Expenses of the Federal Government, 93 note. 

Fast, public, motion to hold, 70 note. 
Federal district, objection to, 43. 
" Federal Farmer," letters of, 17, 96. 
" Federalist, A," article by, 27 note. 

Federalists, leaders of, in the Convention, 60-1 ; policy of, 67; treat- 
ment of opponents, 103-4. 
Federal Republicans, New York committee of, 17 note. 
Field, Samuel, delegate, publishes reasons of dissent, 103, 106-7 note. 

Gerry, Elbridge, refuses to lay Massachusetts resolves before 
Congress, 1785, 60 note, 61 ; delegate to Federal Convention, 18 ; 
letter to General Court giving reasons for his dissent, 19 ; author 
of pamphlet against the Constitution, 19 ; his other writings on 
the Constitution, 20 note ; invited to attend the State Conven- 
tion, but soon withdraws, 62 ; Antifederalist candidate for Gov- 
ernor, 1788, 114 note. 

INDEX. 189 

Gore, Christopher, on reception of Constitution, 16 ; elected dele- 
gate, 55 note ; on disclosures concerning Hancock^s course, 87. 

Gorham, Nathaniel, Federalist leader, 60, 73 ; on proceedings in 
the legislature, 11 3-4. 

Great Barrington, contest over the Constitution, 50. 

Hamilton, J. C, 102. 

" Hampden," letters of, 31-3; authorship of. 31-2 note. 
^-Hampshire, vote in Convention, 99. 

Hancock, Gov. John, address to legislature, 1787, 45; elected to 
Convention, 55 and note ; elected president of the Convention, 
60 ; causes of his influence, 60 note ; course with reference to the 
Constitution, 85 and note ; Federalist bargain with, 85-7 ; intro- 
duces the " conciliatory proposition,'' 87-8 ; address to legisla- 
ture, February, 1788, no; re-elected Governor, 1788, 114 note. 

Handbill, Antifederalist, 53-4. 

Harpswell, Maine, action on Constitution, 56. 

Harvard, town of, instructs against the Constitution, 56 and note. 

Heath, Gen. William, Federalist leader, 61 ; speaks in Convention, 

" Helvidius Priscus," article by, 22 note. 

Higginson, Stephen, defeated for Convention, 56 note ; author of 
" Letters of Laco," 87. 

Holmes, Abraham, delegate, on federal judiciary, 72-3. 

Holten, Dr. Samuel, delegate in Congress, 1785, 60 note, 61 ; Anti- 
federalist leader in Convention, 61 ; early withdrawal of, 61; on 
three-fifths rule in taxation, 71. 

" Honestus," letters of, 10; authorship of, 21 note. 

Hopkinton, town of, sentiments of inhabitants on the Constitution, 

Innovation, spirit of, during the Revolution, 4. 

Jackson, Jonathan, 12 note. 

Jarvis, Dr. Charles, elected delegate, 55 note ; reputed author of 

speech for Nasson, 65; inclined to oppose the Constitution, 96; 

effect of Boston mechanics' resolutions on, 97 note. 
*» John DeWitt," articles by, 24-7. 
Jones, John Coffin, elected delegate, 55 note. 
Jones, William, delegate, for annual elections of Senators, 70; 

moves that a public fast be held, 70 note. 
Judiciary, Federal, objections to, 25, 43, 57 note, 72-3. 

KiLHAM, Dr., in legislature opposes calling ratifying Convention, 

King, Ruf us. Federalist leader, 60 ; his conversion to Federalism, 

190 Dn>EX. 

60 note; <m tibe opposEtioB to tibe CoestitatioB, 78-9; on Han- 
codk's cooiic with reference to the Oiii\liliiiiuu, 86 ; 00 ihc re- 
oeptioB of the ratification, 10^ 

Koslej, Major Martin, deles^te, 71. 

Knox, HeoTf, on State govemmeiiti, 12 ; <m die re ception of the 
CoQstitittioo at Bostoo, 16 ; on die parties in die Co n t enti on, 
67 note ; on tibe opposition to the Con siilati on, 74: on die efiect 
of ratification bj Massachusetts, 115. 

•Laco," letters ot 65, 87. 

Lamb, John, 17 note. 

Lancaster, town oC, instmctions of, concemii^ die Con stitnti on, 57- 

Lansing, John, letter of, 18 note. 

Lawyers, oppontion to, 9-10 ; faior adoption of the Constitotion, 

27 note, 76, 77; should be exclnded from the CboTention and 

from Congress, 28 note. 
Lee, Silas, sketdi of, 40 ; atdtnde toward the Constitndon, 40-1 ; 

his objections removed by the argoments in the Convention, 41 ; 

on the reception of ratification at Biddeford, 109. 
Lee, Richard Henry, pamphlet by, 17 note; recites his objections 

to Samuel Adams, 18 ; assists Gerry in preparing his letter to 

the General Court, 19. 
Lexington, town of, action on Artides of Confederation, 5. 
Lincoln, Gen. Benjamin, Federalist leader, 61 ; on infiaence of the 

clergy, 76 note. 
Lincoln Coanty, Maine, vote in die Convention, 100. 
Losk, Major Thomas, delegate, on lack of religious test, 70 ; on the 

^ conciliatory proposition," 89 note. 

Mails, complaints of irregularity in the, 18 note. 

Maine, sentiment on the Constitution in, 49 and note ; movement 
for separation from Massachusetts, 63 note, 64, 79-80; vote on 
separation, 1792, 80 note; desire for separation induces opposi- 
tion to the Constitution, 81 ; in security of land titles a factor in 
the opposition in, 80 note. 

Martin, Luther, letter of, 18 note. 

Mason, George, letter of, 18 note. 

Mason, Jonathan, Jr., defeated for Convention, 56 note. 

Massachusetts, ratifies articles of Confederation, 5 ; adopts a State 
Constitution, $-7 ; political conditions in, 1787-8, 13-4 ; Federal 
Constitution received in, 15; calls Convention to consider it, 
45-8 ; ratifies and recommends amendments, 88-9, 99; influence 
of her decision, 114-6. 

Massachusetts, legislature of, frames Constitution of 1778, 6; 
calls Convention of 1779-80, 6 ; Federal Constitution laid before, 
45; parties in, 1787-88, 46: opposition in, to calling a conven- 

INDEX. 191 

tion, 46-7 ; Convention called, 47-8 ; reassembles, February, 
1788, no; contest in, over the reply to the Governor's speech, 
1 10-2; refuses to publish the address prepared by the Conven- 
tion, 112-4. 

Maynard, Malachi, delegate, publishes reasons of dissent, 103, 
106-7 i^otc. 
^XMiddlescx County, vote in Convention, 99. 

Minot, George Richards, secretary of the Convention, 113 note. 

Nasson, Samuel, sketch of, 64-5 ; election to the Convention, 64 ; 
has speeches made for him, 65 ; on prospects of ratification, 67 
note ; moves to reconsider vote to discuss by paragraphs, 83 ; 
professes his readiness to support the Constitution, 105 and note ; 
comments on Barrell's course, 108 note ; candidate for presiden- 
tial elector, 108 note. 

Neal, James, on slave-trade, 71 ; votes against Constitution, 71. 

Northampton, town of, 57. 

Noyes, Joseph, 108 note. 

Objections to the Constitution, in ratifying Convention, 68-73 5 

nature of, 68. See also under Constitution, Federal. 
Opposition to the Constitution, analysis of, 73-81. 

Paine, Robert Treat, defeated for Convention, 56 note. 

Palmer, town of, action on Articles of Confederation, 5. 

Pamphlets, Antifederalist, circulated in Massachusetts, 17 and 

Paper money, 43 ; desire for, an element in the opposition to the 
Constitution, 79. 

Parsons, Theophilus, Federalist leader, 61 ; on committee to pre- 
pare address to the people, 113 note. 

Pennsylvania, course with reference to the Constitution, 16 ; com- 
plaints about the mails in, 18 note ; reasons of dissent of minor* 
ity of the Convention of, circulated in Massachusetts, 18 note; 
means used to obtain a Convention in, 38 note; their effect in 
Massachusetts, 17, 38 ; opposition in Convention compared with 
that in Massachusetts, 63 note. 

Phelps, Oliver, declines seat in the Convention, 61. 

Phillips, Wm., elected delegate, 55 note. 

Pierce, Ebenezer, delegate, on the " conciliatory proposition," 89 
note ; on committee to prepare address to the people, 1 13 note. 

Pittsfield, town of, address to General Court, 1776, 3. 

Plymouth County, vote in the Convention, 99. 

Presidency, an elective kingship, 43; violent competitions for, 
feared, 35 ; term of, 56 note ; powers of, 56 note. 

" Publius," letters of, republished in Massachusetts, 18 note. 

192 INDEX. 

Randall, Benjamin, delegate, on praise of the Constitution by 

the upper classes, 76. 
Randolph, Edmund, letter of, 18 note. 
Ratification of the Constitution by Massachusetts, 99 ; celebrated 

at Boston, 106; acquiesced in by Antifederalist delegates, 105; 

general acceptance of the result, 109; effect in other States, 

1 14-6. 
Religion, freedom of, not provided for, 36. 
Repudiation, desire for, 79. 
Rice, Thomas, delegate, 108. 
Roxbury, election at, 52. 
Russell, Thomas, elected delegate, 55 note. 

Sanford, Maine, action on the Constitution, 64. 
Sandwich, town of, instructs against the Constitution, 57. 
Sedgwick, Theodore, on democratic government, 12 ; elected to the 

Convention, 52 ; Federalist leader, 61. 
Senate, equality of the States in, 42; term for, 40, 56 note. 
Sewall, David, 81 ; candidate for presidential elector, 1788, 108 

Sewall, Dummer, delegate, 81 note. 
^^hays*s rebellion, lo-i, 21 note, 77 note; classes participating in, 

10 note; efiect on party division, 11-2; charged to aristocratic 
^ faction, 13; relatioa of, to the constitutional struggle, 59, 74, 75 

note, 79. 
Sheffield, town of, firauduient election at, 51 and note. 
Sherbom, town of, instructions concerning Constitution, 57. 
Singletary, Amos, delegate, sketch of, ^^ note ; on federal taxation, 

72; on aristocratic support of the Constitution, 77; reply to, ^^- 

8 note. 
Skinner, Col. Thompson J., delegate, 51 note. 
Slavery and the slave-trade, 71. 
Slaves, representation of, 39, 71. 

Smith, Jonathan, delegate, on aristocratic support of the Constitu- 
tion, 77-8 note ; his vote in the Convention, 78 note. 
Speech, freedom of, not provided for, 36. 
States, abolition of governments of, £&vored by Knox, 12; effect of 

adoption of Constitution on, 36, 41 ; suability of, 32, 41. 
Stillman, Rev. SamueU elected delegate, 55 note. 
Stockbridge, election at 52. 

Storer, Ebenezer, defeated for Convention, 56 note. 
Strong, Caleb, Federalist leader, 60. 
Sufiblk County, vote in the Convention, 99. 
Sullivan, James, on the reception of the Constitution, 16; possibly 

author of articles signed ** Hampden,** 31-2 note; defeated for 

the Convention, 56 note. 

INDEX. 193 

Sweetser, John, defeated for the Convention, 56 note. 

Sylvester, David, delegate, 108. 

Symmes, William, sketch of, 41-2 ; his objections to the Consti- 

tation, 42-4, 79; withdraws his opposition, 91; resentment of 

his constituents toward, 108-9. 

Tariff, protective, anticipation of, an argument for the Constitu- 
tion, 72. 

Taxation, Federal, oppressive, 35, 42, 56 note, 93 note; unjust to 
.^^ New England, 71 ; chief reliance will be on direct taxes, 72. 

Taylor, Dr. John, Antifederalist leader in the Convention, 6$ ; char- 
acter of, 65 ; on State pajrment of representatives, 70 ; on the 
" conciliatory proposition," 89 ; announces his acquiescence in 
the ratification, 105. 

Tender laws, 43, 46; desire for, a factor in the opposition, 79. 

Test, religious, lack of an objection, 57 note, 70. 

Thatcher, George, delegate in Congress, 38 ; aids in conversion of 
Antifederalist delegates in Massachusetts, 92-3; urged to re- 
strain Samuel Thompson, 108. 

Thompson, Samuel, delegate, sketch of^ 63-4 ; on annual elections, 
69 ; on a property qualification and disqualification for age, 70 
and note; on slavery, 71 ; moves adjournment of Convention, 
82; opposes investigation of charge of bribery, 102; refuses to 
acquiesce in the ratification, 106-7 ; endeavors to stir up strife, 

Thompson, William, delegate, 81 note. 

TiUinghast, Charles, 17 note. 

Topsham, Maine, town of, action on Constitution, 4^50. 

Tories and the Constitution, 81 note. 

Towns, propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation, 5; 
action with reference to a State Constitution, 6-7; choose dele- 
gates to the ratifying Convention, 48-58; those failing to send 
delegates, 48-9 ; instruct delegates, 56-8. 

Tradesmen, Boston, resolutions of, 96-7. 

Tread well, Thomas, 18 note. 

Treaties, power to make, 43. 

« Truth," handbill by, 53-4. 

Turner, Charles, sketch of, 66; on constitution-making, 69; on an- 
nual elections, 69 ; on congressional control of elections, 69 ; 
advocates rotation in office, 70; withdraws his opposition, 

Vassalborough, Maine, town of, choice of delegate, 49. 
Vice-presidency, 56 note. 

Virginia, adjournment of Massachusetts Convention advised till 
action of, 31. 


194 DiDEX. 

Wait, TaoifAS B., fketch o£, 37--8; atdtode toward the Coosti- 
tntioii, 58-40; <m SamoH Thompsoo's e£Eorts to stir up strife, 

Warren, James, 21, 53; sketch o£, 117-8 note; probable au- 
thor of artides signed «^RepiiUican Federalist." 28, 117-S 
note; Anti£ederafist candidate for Lieiitenant-GoTenior, 1788, 
114 note. 

Warren, Dr. John, defeated for Convention, 56 note. 

Warren, Mrs. Mercy, on Shajs's revolt, 13. 

Washington, George, 38 ; character affected bj keeping slaves, 71. 

** Watchman, A," article by, 35-6. 

Well-bom, the, 76. 

Wells, Maine, town of, 57. 

Wendell, Oliver, candidate for Conventioa, 55 note. 

Westminster, town of, 57. 

Whitney, Gen. Josiah, delegate, acquiesces in the ratification, 105 

White, Abraham, del^;ate, <m congressional control of elections, 
69; opposes investigation of charge of bribery, 102; acquiesces 
in the ratification, 105 note. 

Widgery, William, in legisUtUTty favors submitting Federal Con- 
stitution to direct vote of the people, 46-7 ; sketch oC 63 ; objects 
to representation of slaves, 71 ; supports motion to reconsider 
vote to discuss by paragraphs, 83 ; on the *^ conciliatory proposi- 
tion," 89 note, 94 note; opposes investigation of charge of 
bribery, 102 ; announces his acceptance of the ratification, 105 ; 
candidate for presidential elector, 1788, 108 note. 

Williamstown, contested election at, 51 and note. 

Wilson, James, 22 note, 39. 

Winthrop, James, 21 ; sketch of, 21 note; author of articles signed 
** Agrippa," 21-2 note ; conjectured author of Antifederalist hand- 
bill, 53. 

Winthrop, John, 4 ; elected delegate, 55 note. 
^Worcester County, delegates from, 74; vote in the Convention, 99, 
100; reception of ratification in, 109. 

Yates, Robert, letter of, 18 note. 

York County, Maine, vote in the Convention, 100. 

Young, William, contesting delegate to the Convention, 51 note. 









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